As the global demand for especially strategic metals grows, commodity prices rise, according to Ramboll, an engineering, design and consultancy company.
Thus there is a risk of an increasing supply shortage for metals that are critical to Europe’s economy. Mining in the deep sea may just be the answer to this challenge.
In deep sea mining, mineral deposits are extracted at water depths of up to 6,000 m as this is where valuable seafloor mineral resources are found.
There are various synergies with technologies for ultra-deep drilling and subsea production systems in offshore oil & gas.
The Blue Mining project
Ramboll is presently involved in one of the world’s largest research projects on deep sea mining.
An international consortium of 19 large industrial enterprises and research organisations are developing solutions that will bring deep sea mining a step closer to the commercial phase.
The so-called “Blue Mining” project is addressing all aspects of the value chain, from resource discovery to resource assessment and from exploitation technologies to the legal and regulatory framework.
The EURO 15 million project is partly funded by the partners, partly by the European Commission.
Although the specific impact of deep sea mining on the marine ecosystem is not yet known in full detail and has to be further assessed during pilot mining tests, it can be expected that due to the availability of highly automated and advanced technologies deep sea mining in general has a smaller impact on the environment than land-based mining.
The challenge is to adequately and cost-effectively discover, assess and extract the minerals in a sustainable manner so that the mining impact on the marine environment will be as low as possible.
The objective of the Blue Mining project is to develop the technical capabilities required to successfully undertake deep sea mining operations.