Deep-Sea Deposits Development and Ore Processing Horizons
The overproduction and the global economic crisis resulted in the cost reduction of basic metals: copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and molybdenum. The prices for these metals are now fixed, however they tend to some fluctuation. But in case of their further decline by 10-15%, about 30-45% of production facilities are likely to become unprofitable, thus having a material impact on metal price increase: such a misbalance may provoke obvious fluctuations.
In order to prevent the production volume and business profitability reduction, producers will have to increasingly use “poor” ores and increase their production expenses. We should also take into account the exhaustion of rich on-shore deposits of nonferrous metals – their reserves are not inexhaustible.
All these facts give rise to a necessity to search for new mining and processing technologies for mineral deposits. The development of deep-sea deposits of the World Ocean is solving a problem of obtaining nonferrous and noble metals from renewable mineral resources.
Minerals and raw materials potential of the World Ocean offers three groups of solid minerals. The first group comprises varieties of solid minerals recognized as practically valuable mineral resources. Among them there are ferromanganese nodules (FMNs), cobalt-manganese crusts (CMCs), deep-sea polymetallic sulphides (DPSs), metalliferous silts and brines, oceanic phosphorites. The second group unites non-conventional, new types of oceanic minerals, including metal-bearing sediments, hydrothermal crusts, barytes, zeolitic clays and gas-hydrates. The third group consists of prognosticated types of oceanic minerals. Some of them relate to the sedimentation mass (stratiform, sedimentation buildups), others – to basalts of the second oceanic layer or tectonic geoblocks with basyte-ultrabasyte structure.
The exploration of deep-sea deposits have been carried out for more than 40 years by now, and soon they will begin the second stage – mining and processing of ferromanganese nodules and other mineral sediments on a commercial scale. There is a strong possibility that they will subsequently revise the price for basic metals, as it will be based on a different cost of production. In such a case, producers will be able to make consumer goods readily available to a greater extent - and this will constitute a new turn of growth of the global economy.
Those who will be first to start the extraction and processing of mineral resources from the World Ocean will undoubtedly capture full benefits.