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Wilhelmson and NorSea back Loke Marine Minerals seabed mining pursuit

Wilhelmsen and NorSea have together acquired an 18% stake in Norway-based deep-sea mining company Loke Marine Minerals.

This will see the two companies invest and subscribe for, in aggregate, NOK85 million ($9.6 million) in an ongoing NOK115 million private placement of equity in Loke.

Loke was established in 2019 by experienced off-shore energy leaders and entrepreneurs to become a leading provider of minerals for the green energy transition. The company has leveraged its exploration and production and subsea technology experience to, it says, develop breakthrough proprietary designs of production equipment and performed studies relating to exploration, production, environmental and economic aspects of the industry, all with the aim to secure top acreage licences on the basis of extracting seabed minerals with the lowest possible environmental impact.

John Stangeland, Group CEO of NorSea, said the company, recognising the accelerating energy transition, was actively looking at new projects and business areas, outside of the oil and gas industry, where NorSea’s port infrastructure and proven service and supply know-how can continue to be a key driver of success.

“The development of the seabed mineral industry in Norway is far from certain, but partnering with a frontrunner like Loke, which has such focus on developing new technologies and systems to safely and sustainably extract minerals from Norwegian waters, puts us in an interesting position,” he said.

Marine minerals have been identified by the World Bank, World Economic Forum and International Energy Agency as one of the potential solutions to meet the increasing demand for the metals currently used in electric vehicle batteries, clean energy technologies and consumer electronics, according to NorSea.

Found in rock concentrations on the seabed and metallic layers that form on the sides of seamounts, Norway is using its oil and gas industry expertise and experiences to outline the potential of seabed minerals for value creation and domestic employment, the company said.

Rich with in-demand metals such as copper, zinc, cobalt, scandium, and additional rare earth elements, the minerals on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) alone are estimated, by an independent study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, to be worth a total of $100 billion.

Commenting on the deal, Jan Eyvin Wang, Executive Vice President of Wilhelmsen’s New Energy segment, said: “We are focused on supporting the energy transition in the right way with the right partners throughout the ocean space. Bringing our global footprint and expertise into play in a new potential marine market, Loke Marine Minerals will now be able to benefit from our core maritime competencies, long-standing relationships, digital capabilities, and experience developing offshore wind and hydrogen services and decarbonised solutions.”

Currently developing patent-pending technology, Loke’s ESG-focused, minimal impact technical solutions aim to position it at the front for the highly anticipated licence application process for mineral mining on the NCS.

Walter Sognnes, CEO of Loke Marine Minerals, said: “We are very excited and pleased to get these first class and top choice companies to join on the owner side of Loke. We see great benefits for the exciting phase the company now is entering from what they are bringing to the table, with regards to knowledge, experience and culture. Their complementary business areas are an ideal match with our ambition of becoming an international leading marine minerals company.”

Alongside NorSea and Wilhelmsen, TechnipFMC is also a co-investor in Loke, with an ownership of 18%. Providing services and systems to the energy industry, Technip FMC’s subsea leadership in innovation, technology and robotics complement the integrated logistics, project management and marine know-how of NorSea and Wilhelmsen, the companies said.

Jonathan Landes, President, Subsea at TechnipFMC, said: “We are pleased to partner with Loke in the development of this important resource. Our culture of collaboration, integration and innovation, along with our expertise in subsea robotics and extensive history on the NCS can help meet the rising demand for new technologies and resources that are driving the energy transition.”

Norway is one of the only countries to have formalised marine mineral legislation with the Seabed Mineral Act in in 2019. Following a detailed public consultation earlier this year, the Norwegian Government is now preparing an in-depth environmental impact assessment, ahead of its final decision on licensing approval for exploration and production. The decision is expected in the June quarter of 2023.