Mineral Economics – 21 February 2018
Authors: Sebastian Ernst Volkmann, Thomas Kuhn, Felix Lehnen
A comprehensive approach for a techno-economic assessment of nodule mining in the deep sea
Mine planning of land-based mineral deposits follows well-established methods. The deep sea is currently under exploration, but mine planning approaches are still lacking. A spatial planning tool to assess the techno-economic requirements and implications of manganese nodule mining on deep-sea deposits is proposed in this paper. The comprehensive approach has been validated using research findings of the Blue Mining project, which received funding from the European Commission. A part of the German exploration area E1, located in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, Pacific Ocean, serves as a case study area. The approach contributes to a responsible utilization of mineral resources in the deep sea, considering geological, economic and financial as well as technical and operational aspects. The approach may also be applicable for an early-stage assessment of other projects related to spatially distributed mineral resources, e.g., marine phosphate nodules. Furthermore, it could also be helpful for the investigation of the environmental impacts of seafloor manganese nodule mining.
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