The world has a problem. It’s getting harder to obtain the metals we need for our future — to build the electric cars, wind turbines, smartphones, supercomputers and other future technologies that will make us less reliant on fossil fuels.
These future metals are the last elemental resources on Earth. There is no replacement. And they are essential for our civilization to continue technological development towards a sustainable future, as well as build the infrastructure needed to alleviate poverty.
It’s time for a new approach. And DeepGreen has it. We can responsibly produce the metals we need from the deep-ocean floor.
These metals — cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese — are contained in metal-rich seafloor polymetallic nodules, which were discovered more than a century ago on the surface of the Pacific Ocean floor.
In the 1970s four consortia started to collect these in trials, spending approximately $1 billion in today’s dollars. Tests confirmed that the nodules could be harvested and processed to produce metals using the technology available at the time in the 1970s.
However, production of these future metals was put on hold because they were in international waters, and a regulatory regime to grant exclusive rights was not in place. That’s now been resolved. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea created the International Seabed Authority, through which exploration contracts can be obtained. DeepGreen’s subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), was granted an exploration licence in 2011, covering
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Subsidiaries of Lockheed Martin, China Minmetals, Keppel, and DEME have also secured exploration contracts, as well as government organizations from Japan, Korea, Russia, France and Germany.
Imagine DeepGreen Inside
You will know the metals inside your smartphone, electric vehicles, wind turbines and electrical storage batteries are produced in an ethical, environmentally responsible manner, with zero impact on local populations. DeepGreen and NORI’s international team of scientists and engineers are focused on bringing these essential future metals to the world. We are using the latest deep-sea technology, environmental science, and mineral processing technology, to ensure minimum impact on the environment. Our mission is to produce these metals for our future and reduce global reliance on fossil fuels, to build a sustainable and prosperous future for all citizens.
Future metals — contained in fields of metal-rich polymetallic nodules sitting on the deep-ocean floor — will be collected, lifted to a surface ship and taken to port to be responsibly processed. There will be no drilling, explosives or tailings.
Deep-ocean harvesting of polymetallic nodules was first accomplished more than fifty years ago. Since those pioneering harvesting efforts were carried out in the 1970s, the necessary technology and environmental science has advanced, making this a responsible way of harvesting metals for our future. To ensure minimal impact on the ocean, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. is carrying out environmental and engineering studies to ensure that any impacts to the oceans is minimized.
Deep-sea harvesters, specially designed to minimize impact, gather selected metal-rich nodules about 4 km below the surface.
Using a lift system, the metals for our future are lifted to the surface ship.
What is recovered is taken to land for DeepGreen’s patented processing.
With our patented process, DeepGreen intends to be a leader in the low-cost production of high-value metals and products derived from seafloor polymetallic nodules.
Our hydrometallurgical processing technology is designed to efficiently extract and produce high-grade manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt products.
It is our objective to process metals with zero tailings. This would be a major development for the minerals industry, where currently the disposal of large volumes of tailings is one of the biggest environmental impacts imposed by land-based mining.
Key attributes of the DeepGreen Process include:
- Operates at atmospheric pressure and medium temperature.
- Aims for zero tailings generation.
- Aims to produce LME grade, nickel, cobalt and premium-grade manganese dioxide and copper-sulphide products.
- Aims to produce additional products such as zinc-sulphide concentrate, high-grade silica and iron hydroxide, as well as a nitrogen-calcium feed for the fertilizer industry.
- Will not have to deal with large volumes of clay and waste gypsum, as is typical with many processes today.