Seafloor miner touts production milestone

Staff reporter

Top image :
Seafloor nodule from the Clarion Clipperton Zone

Pacific Ocean seafloor mining hopeful TMC (The Metals Company) says world-first pilot-scale production of nickel sulphate from deep-seafloor polymetallic nodules “is an important milestone” for the company and emergent sector.

Nasdaq-listed TMC, which has a current market value of about US$500 million, is working with SGS Canada to tweak a hydrometallurgical flowsheet designed to directly produce nickel and cobalt sulphate from high-grade matte, plus fertiliser by-products.

“Following the successful nickel sulphate production, SGS continues testing to produce what TMC believes will be the world’s first cobalt sulphate from polymetallic nodules,” the company said.

TMC head of onshore development, Dr Jeffrey Donald, said data from the testwork would inform further engineering decisions to “move this towards commercial scale”.

“TMC continues to expect that initial production will begin with a capital-light approach by leveraging the existing processing facilities of strategic partners, such as PAMCO [Pacific Metals Corporation],” Donald said.

“With the commencement of this new industry now being seen as imminent by countries and companies alike, this represents not just a major achievement for TMC but for the entire deep-seafloor minerals industry.”

TMC’s NORI and TOML projects are in Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a 4.5 million square kilometre abyssal plain at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico. The company says polymetallic nodules containing cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese, formed over millions of years by precipitating metals from seawater and sediment pore water, lie unattached to the abyssal seafloor.

It signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s PAMCO last November to complete a feasibility study to extract and process 1.3 million tonnes of wet polymetallic nodules (PMN) a year.


Leave a Reply

Not registered? Register Now

Powered By MemberPress WooCommerce Plus Integration