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Keppel gets into ocean mining

Written by Nick Blenkey

sea-bed resourcesAPRIL 22, 2013 — Keppel Corporation Limited (Keppel Corporation) has today announced the formation of Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte. Ltd. (OMS), which intends to explore for polymetallic nodules several kilometers beneath the ocean’s surface.

Polymetallic nodules contain copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, as well as rare earth minerals, and have the potential of supplying these key metals to meet growing global demand in applications as diverse as construction, aerospace and alternative energy.

OMS has applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for its first seabed exploration licence which will be considered by the ISA in July.

OMS is a Singapore-incorporated company majority owned by Keppel Corporation, with UK Seabed Resources Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based Lockheed Martin UK Holdings Ltd and Singapore-based private investment company Lion City Capital Partners Pte. Ltd. as minority shareholders.

UK Seabed Resources, in partnership with the U.K. Government’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills, has already received a license and contract to explore a 58,000 sq kilometer area of the Pacific for mineral-rich polymetallic nodules.

“It is a privilege to be associated with Keppel and apply our technology, skills and scientific expertise in order to explore for polymetallic nodules in an environmentally responsible way,” said Stephen Ball, Chief Executive, UK Seabed Resources.

“We are pleased to be working with UK Seabed Resources on seabed exploration,” said Mr. Ong Ye Kung, Director of OMS. “With Keppel’s many years of offshore and marine experience, this could be an exciting opportunity to emerge at the forefront of the industry should the application be successful.”

Keppel says that although harvesting polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor at depths of several kilometers has previously been considered uneconomic, the development of new technologies for the offshore oil industry and aerospace industry over the past decade has changed this dynamic.

Nodules can be brought to the surface using a combination of remotely operated or autonomous underwater vehicles, pumps and riser pipes.

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