Last week, Global Sea Mineral Resources (“GSR”) recommenced tests that may bring about the mining of battery metals from the floor of the Pacific Ocean. This was after the company managed to retrieve a mining prototype that had been stranded in the ocean.
The Belgium company revealed that its 25-ton mining robot, dubbed “Patania II,” had been disconnected from a 3.1-mile cable that connected it to the surface.
DEME Group, which is a leader in environmental remediation, marine engineering and dredging, has been working with a team of European researchers to find out the environmental effects of deep-sea mining. They are currently working on concessions for GSR in the Clarion Clipperton Zone. This zone is a geological submarine fracture zone in the Pacific Ocean.
In a statement, deep-sea biologist from Greenpeace Germany Sandra Schoettner noted that it was ironic that an industry that wanted to extract minerals from the ocean floor would end up dropping its machine down there instead. She added that this operational error should act as a warning that extraction of minerals in the deep sea was an enormous risk.
In its media statement, GSR’s managing director Kris Van Nijen said that the company was employing a careful step-by-step approach in its project development, adding that GSR was carrying out these trials in order to better understand the difficulties involved, which would allow the company to refine its technology. Van Nijen added that the mining robot had performed well and the lessons would be accommodated into the next phase of development, noting that the company was prepared for multiple outcomes, given that this was pioneering work.
Before the incident, the mining prototype had managed to collect polymetallic nodules from the sea bed. The nodules are rocks that are rich in rare earth minerals such as cobalt, nickel and manganese.
Deep sea mining has been promoted as an alternative to mining on land as the demand for minerals such as nickel and cobalt, which are required for the green-energy transition, is expected to surpass the current rates of production in the next decade.
DEME Group, as well as other companies such as China Minmetals Corp., Lockheed Martin and DeepGreen Metals, are leading efforts to extract the minerals needed for green technologies and electric cars. However, regulations to govern deep sea mining haven’t yet been agreed on by the International Seabed Authority. The authority, which is backed by 167 nations across the globe, has already handed out exploration contracts to 21 firms. Despite this, mining cannot commence until regulations are agreed upon and passed.
While the modalities to extract minerals from the seabed are still being worked out, mining sector players such as Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE American: UEC) are deploying superior technologies, including in-situ recovery, while they extract different resources on land.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Uranium Energy Corp. (NYSE American: UEC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/UEC
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