In the deep waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, Fugro, a world leader in geo-intelligence and asset integrity solutions, is commencing its first project supporting deep sea polymetallic nodule mining. The project, which began on 19th April, is under a contract awarded by seafloor mineral exploration company Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), a subsidiary of DeepGreen Metals Inc.
Polymetallic nodules are potato-sized concretions enriched in nickel, copper, and cobalt found in vast deep-sea basins at depths of 3,500 to 6,500 meters across the world’s oceans. These nodules also contain metals and non-metals important to ‘green-tech’ enterprises, such as electric vehicles and wind energy production. In the UK alone, estimates suggest the deep-sea mining industry could be worth £40 billion to the economy over the next 30 years.
“Fugro’s sector-leading technology, technical capabilities and track record of success make it the perfect partner to assist DeepGreen and Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. to begin producing metals for our future,” said Gerard Barron, CEO of DeepGreen Metals Inc.
Fugro’s specialist marine geoscience team will perform detailed site characterization surveys surveys that will advance NORI’s polymetallic nodule project. The site characterization surveys will involve the acquisition of high-resolution imagery and geophysical data, and sampling of minerals from the seafloor. Fugro will also measure geotechnical properties, catalog the mineral resource and help NORI to determine optimal mining areas.
The data acquisition and sampling will take place in water depths of up to 4,500 meters over a 400-square-kilometer area between the Clarion and Clipperton fracture zones, an area around the size of Europe extending from the west coast of Mexico to Hawaii. The field work will be accomplished using the company’s Echo Surveyor VII autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) and specialized seafloor sampling equipment.
Dan McConnell, Fugro’s global product manager for gas hydrates and marine minerals, added, “Fugro has much to offer in terms of specialized ultra-deepwater survey, resource assessment and oceanographic and environmental studies. We look forward to working with NORI and DeepGreen Metals Inc. and demonstrating value through this, our first ever project to support deep sea polymetallic nodule mining.”