Offshore resources are plentiful with high ore grades. In many cases, these resources are unburied lying on the surface of the seabed. Currently, the International Seabed Authority has put draft legislation in place for mining in international waters. In parallel, some governments have already put in place mining and environmental legislation for their exclusive economic areas.
SMD is no stranger to subsea mineral extraction. In 2007 we were awarded the contract to design and build the world’s first deep-sea mineral recovery vehicles. These three remotely-controlled machines, the largest of which is 300 tonnes, were designed to recover seafloor massive sulphides (SMS).
This massive feat of engineering concluded in 2016 with the delivery of the three vehicles and all the accompanying equipment totalling over 1,000 tonnes.
Polymetallic sulphides (SMS); 1,000-2,500m; Hydrothermal vents: Cu (copper), Au (gold), Ag (silver), Zn (zinc) - Also: Antimony, Cadmium, Gallium, Germanium, Indium, Selenium
Fe-Mn nodules (Polymetallic Nodules); abyssal sediments; 3,500-5,000m; NOT hydrothermal: Cu (copper), Ni (nickel), Zn (zinc), Mn (manganese), Co (cobalt) - Also: Bismuth, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Tellurium, Titanium, Tungsten, Yttrium, Zirconium, some REE
• Co-rich Fe-Mn crusts (Ferromanganese Crusts); seamount flanks; 1500-3000m; NOT hydrothermal: Co (cobalt), Ni (nickel), Mn (manganese), Pt (platinum), REE (rare earth element) - Also: Bismuth, Niobium, Molybdenum, Tellurium, Thorium, Zirconium