The first of five ocean campaigns, co-sponsored with Maersk, bodes well for environmentally sustainable and economic recovery of metals. DeepGreen’s research vessel, the Maersk Launcher, will return to port in San Diego on June 4 with positive findings after nearly two months at sea. This is the first of five expeditions to pursue the development of deep ocean metals, which will be indispensable for powering a low-carbon and high-tech economy — battery storage systems, electric vehicles, smart phones, wind turbines and solar panels. The research results, carried out 4 km below the surface, confirm abundant seafloor polymetallic nodules, which prior analysis shows contain essential metals such as cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese. The ship is operated by DeepGreen’s subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources, Inc (NORI).
DeepGreen and NORI are developing technology that will allow them to collect the polymetallic nodules lying on top of the deep ocean floor, bring them to the surface using state-of-the-art technology, and process them with the objective of producing zero-waste. They say “a race is now on to find essential metals in the deep ocean. DeepGreen and NORI stand out for their commitment to ensuring that their operations are preceded by the necessary science to ensure that the metal for our future can be obtained in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.”
The two-month campaign, overseen by DeepGreen’s subsidiary, NORI, embraced extensive scientific and resource surveys within a 75,000-km2 contract area of the Eastern Pacific’s abyssal plain, contracted to NORI by the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority (ISA).
The picture shows the autonomous underwater vehicle onboard the Maersk Launcher – the AUV collects detailed topographic maps of the seafloor, photographs, sub-bottom profiler and side scan data which creates a map of surface roughness and potentially nodule abundance.