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Feasibility study on manganese nodules recovery in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone

By Baivau Agarwal, Pan Hu, Marco Placidi, Harrif Santo and Jenny Jin Zhou

Abstract

The sea occupies three quarters of the area on the earth and provides various kinds of resources to mankind in the form of minerals, food, medicines and even energy. “Seabed exploitation” specifically deals with recovery of the resources that are found on the seabed, in the form of solids, liquids and gasses (methane hydrates, oil and natural gas). The resources are abundant; nevertheless the recovery process from the seabed, poses various challenges to mankind. This study starts with a review on three types of resources: polymetallic manganese nodules, polymetallic manganese crusts and massive sulphides deposits. Each of them are rich in minerals, such as manganese, cobalt, nickel, copper and some rare earth elements. They are found at many locations in the deep seas and are potentially a big source of minerals. No commercial seabed mining activity has been accomplished to date due to the great complexities in recovery. This book describes the various challenges associated with a potential underwater mineral recovery operation, reviews and analyses the existing recovery techniques, and provides an innovative engineering system. It further identifies the associated risks and a suitable business model.<br/><br/>Chapter 1 presents a brief background about the past and present industrial trends of seabed mining. A description of the sea, seabed and the three types of seabed mineral resources are also included. A section on motivations for deep sea mining follows which also compares the latter with terrestrial mining.<br/><br/>Chapter 2 deals with the decision making process, including a market analysis, for selecting manganese nodules as the resource of interest. This is followed by a case study specific to the location of interest: West COMRA in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Specific site location is determined in order to estimate commercial risk, environmental impact assessment and logistic challenge.<br/><br/>Chapter 3 lists the existing techniques for nodule recovery operation. The study identifies the main components of a nodules recovery system, and organizes them into: collector, propulsion and vertical transport systems.<br/><br/>Chapter 4 discusses various challenges posed by manganese nodules recovery, in terms of the engineering and environment. The geo-political and legal-social issues have also been considered. This chapter plays an important role in defining the proposed engineering system, as addressing the identified challenges will better shape the proposed solution.<br/><br/>Chapter 5 proposes an engineering system, by considering the key components in greater details. An innovative component, the black box is introduced, which is intended to be an environmentally-friendly solution for manganese nodules recovery. Other auxiliary components, such as the mother ship and metallurgical processing, are briefly included. A brief power supply analysis is also provided.<br/><br/>Chapter 6 assesses the associated risks, which are divided into sections namely commercial viability, logistic challenges, environmental impact assessment and safety assessment. The feasibility of the proposed solution is also dealt with.<br/><br/>Chapter 7 provides a business model for the proposed engineering system. Potential customers are identified, value proposition is determined, costumer relation is also suggested. Public awareness is then discussed and finally a SWOT analysis is presented. This business model serves as an important bridge to reach both industry and research institutes.<br/><br/>Finally, Chapter 8 provides some conclusions and recommendation for future work

Topics: TC, TN
Publisher: University of Southampton
Year: 2012
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.soton.ac.uk:349889
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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