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Maersk Supply AHTS departs on deep sea mining study mission

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Maersk Launcher

APRIL 26, 2018 — Maersk Supply Service reports that its 2010-built AHTS Maersk Launcher has left San Diego for its first deep sea mineral offshore study. The departure marks an important milestone for Maersk Supply Service’s work with Canadian deep sea metal company, DeepGreen Metals.

Maersk Supply Service began working with DeepGreen Metals (DeepGreen) in 2017, to bring marine knowledge to the development of a method for harvesting small metallic rocks – or polymetallic nodules – in a sustainable way. The nodules contain metals such as copper, cobalt, manganese and nickel, which are valuable materials for electronics, as well as batteries used for renewable technologies.

The offshore work targets the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean at a water depth of 4,500 m. A total of five voyages are planned for 2018 and 2019.

The first four center around environmental studies and documentation of the seabed. The overall aim of the offshore work is to better understand the quality and quantity of nodules present and how to best extract them in a sustainable way.

The offshore work will occur under the regulation of the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority (ISA), which will ensure the world’s best practices and demand minimal environmental impact. Maersk Supply Service has committed to supporting five marine voyages. The contribution includes two vessels, as well as project services. Maersk Supply Service’s contribution of approximately $25 million will be converted to DeepGreen shares.

“We are pleased to see that our specialized assets are being utilised in a unique and whole new market area,” says CEO of Maersk Supply Service, Steen S. Karstensen. “Although deep sea mineral recovery is in an early stage and production is a few years away, it is a promising business area with the potential for significant future growth and links into Maersk Supply Service’s overall strategy about diversifying its business into new markets.”

DeepGreen Metal’s subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Research Inc. (NORI), will carry out scientific and resource surveys within a 75,000-square kilometer contract area, granted to NORI by the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority (ISA).

“This voyage is a continuation of the work required in preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement that NORI aims to submit to the ISA, a necessary step to move the exploration license to exploitation license, which will enable NORI to bring these essential metals for our future to the surface where they will be treated onshore using DeepGreen’s patented processing technology, which aims to produce zero waste,” said Gerard Barron, CEO of DeepGreen. “We believe these future metals can be produced responsibly, protecting ocean health, while avoiding the deforestation, pollution and child labor that too often are part of traditional mining.”

DeepGreen Metals is a Canadian company that says it offers “a new and disruptive approach to supplying the world with metals for our future.”

Glencore, a global resource company, has invested in DeepGreen and contracted to buy a percentage of the nickel and copper produced from a land-based processing plant operated by DeepGreen.

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