Deep Sea Minerals

Aug 7, 2021

Deep Sea Minerals

Deep Sea Minerals – a key to a net-zero future

In order to realize the green measures recommended by IEA, subsea mining and utilization of submarine mineral deposits is crucial for success.

 

The green shift requires minerals in enormous amounts

Light bulps will be replaced by modern more efficient LED bulbs. Electric cars will replace cars that use diesel and petrol. By 2030 it’s expected that the demand for electric cars will 18-fold.

Mobile phones, TVs, computers and cameras depend on strong, but very small batteries. Batteries requires large amounts of minerals like lithium, copper, cobalt, nickel, yttrium and cadmium.

According to IEA 70% of all electricity production in 2050 will be solar and wind-based. Solar panels needs tellurium (a by-product of copper and lead refining) and modern batteries are dependant on lithium and cobolt. Lithium is currently extracted mainly from salt lakes (Salar) in South and North America.

 

Black Smokers – Deep sea mineral factories

In 1979 the deep sea explorer Robert Ballard (same guy who discovered Titanic), discovered some strange phenomenas at more than 2000 meters depth. These underwater volcanoes erupt with hot fluids that shoot up from the sea floor through black chimneys.

The mechanism of the black smoker is fairly straight forward. Seawater penetrates into the earth’s interior through cracks in the sea floor formed by volcanic activity.

The rising molten lava, under great pressure, raises the temperature of the descending water to a very high temperature, well above the normal boiling point of water. Super-heated water under great pressure acts like a strong acid and dissolves almost any surrounding rock and minerals it encounters.

Deep down below the seabed, the temprature and pressure increases. When the pressure and temprature gets high enough, the fluid will again rise and together with the mineral load, geyser out through the chimneys.

The black smokers are active for several tousinds of years before die out and leave huge mounds of lead, zink, copper, silver and gold on the seabed.

 

What to expect on the Norwegian Continental Shelf

The Norwegian Petrolium Directorate (NPD) has the administrative responsibility for exploration and extraction of mineral deposits on the Norwegian contintal shelf. Through a multi-year reasearch collaboration between The University of Bergen (UiB) and NPD, several large minreal deposits has been located(both smokers, crust and mounds) at the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Chemical analyzes of the crust shows 20-80 times more lithium and 4-7 more scandium than the crusts in the Pacific and the rest of the Atlantic. It is expected that the demand for these minerals will skyrocket as a part of the green shift.

 

Sustainable subsea mining

The largest subsea mineral deposits are located on the seabed from 800 – 4000 meters depth.

With world leading compentency and decades of offshore experience Deep Ocean Group and Seabed Solutions are leading providers of solutions for seabed exploration and excavation. The two companies recently joined forces through the deep sea mineral company, Adepth Minerals.

The team behind Adepth Minerals has extensive experience in geological and data driven seabed exploration. The company are taking measures to win three to five licenses for mineral extraction on the Norwegian Continental Shelf when these are awarded from 2023. Until then Adepth Minerals will continue to gather and interpret data, making future missions a success.