FMNs and Other Mineral Sediments Mining Potential

 

The scientists have determined that about 10 billion tons of metal in the form of mineral sediments – the so-called ferromanganese nodules and crusts – are generated on the bottom of the seas and oceans every year. This is many times as large as the on-shore mineral reserves. For example, the expected reserves of oceanic cobalt 55 times exceed the relevant on-shore resources. The nickel and molybdenum reserves on the World Ocean bed are much larger than the analogous continental amounts: 7 times greater reserves of nickel and 3 times - molybdenum. The manganese and silver reserves potential is practically the same; copper, platinum, and zinc reserves are twice less; lead reserves make 20% of the on-shore resources.
The overall reserves of ferromanganese nodules and crusts within the explored areas are estimated at 75 billion tons of the dry ore mass.

Out of the estimated reserves, there are:
19.59 billion tons – Abyssal (deep seated) nodules – Clarion-Clipperton;
19.24 billion tons – cobalt-bearing crusts;
2.21 billion tons – Peruvian nodules, rich in manganese;
2.32 billion tons – North-American and Blake Plateau (Со).

Ferromanganese nodules and crusts are raw materials of complex type. The basic elements of nodules are Mn, Ni, Co, and Cu. Concurrently, 29 elements may be recovered from them: noble metals (Au, Ag, Platinum metals), dispersed elements (Vo, Te, Ta, Bi, Rb, Hf), rare (V, Zr) and some rare-earth elements of cerium and yttrium groups. The content of associated components in nodules may be characterized by the following values: Mo – 0.06%, Au – 0.03 gr/t, Ag – 1.1 gr/t, Pt – 0.12 gr/t, TR – 0.5 kg/t.

Unlike the nodules with predominant content of Mn, the crusts contain almost equal amounts of Fe and Mn, but the Co
content is three times as large as the same in nodules. The crusts yield to the nodules in the Ni, Zn, Cu content. The crusts belong to saleable ores in terms of Mn and Co content. Concurrently, Ni, Cu, Pt, Mo, V, TR may be recovered from them.

The necessity to develop the World Ocean deposits is increasingly emerging along with the understanding that the exploitation of on-shore deposits, characterized by lower output and complicated mining-and-geological and hydrometallurgical conditions, is nowadays perceived as insufficiently profitable and environmentally damaging.
The FMN deposits exploration activities are regulated by the UN ISA and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea documents, in particular, the Rules for Prospecting and Exploration of Ferromanganese Nodules within the Area. The most active geological prospecting and exploration operations have been focused on the Clarion-Clipperton Province. Within its borders, there are over 20 license areas, each containing a separate FMNs deposit, meaning that each area has such a concentration, reserves and quality of ores that satisfy the requirements of the revenue producing operation consistent with the rules and procedures established by the UN ISA.

The procedure for obtaining a permit to develop a deposit requires extensive collaboration with international authorities that issue licenses for exploration and exploitation of international seabed areas. For the purpose of mining the nodules and other mineral sediments in future, KRYPTON OCEAN GROUP plans to apply for a license to carry out operations in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, the Californian and Peruvian Fields. The Company is also considering other promising areas containing cobalt crusts.

 

 

1. A boundary of the mega-belt of an oceanic ferromanganese nodules formation zone. 2. A boundary of belts of an oceanic ferromanganese nodules formation zone. 3. Numbers and names of belts: I  North Subequatorial, II  Equatorial, III   South  Subequatorial, IV  Subequatorial. 4 and 5 – fields with ferromanganese nodules and crusts: 1) Clarion-Clipperton, 2) Central Pacific, 3) Peruvian, 4) Californian, 5) Penrhyn, 6) South Pacific, 7) Menard, 8) Wake, 9) Midpacific, 10) Hawaiian, 11) Magellan Mountains, 12 ) Line, 13)  Central Indian Ocean, 14) West Australian, 15) Diamantina, 16) Madagascar, 17) Equator, 18) north American,  6 – Concentration of oceanic sulphide ores:  1) TAG, MIR, Snake Pit, Broken Spur, Lucky Strike, Menez Gwen; 2) – Polar (Logachev); 3) Red Sea (Atlantis II Deep, Valdivia, Suakin); 4) Trog Okinawa, Izu-Bonino; 5) Manus, Wurdluck; 6)- Trog Lau; 7) Juan-De-Fuca, Endeavour; 8)- Gulf of California (Guaymas), 21° n.l. of the East Pacific Rise; 9) 12°° n.l. of the East Pacific Rise;  10) Galapagos; 11) 21°-22° n.l. of the East Pacific Rise. 12) Commander Islands.  7 – Phosphorites (phosphorite provinces and areas): 1-Californian, 2-Peruvian-Chilean, 3-Japanese Sea province, 4-Chatem, 5-Midpacific, 6-Cape, 7-Moroccan, 8-Atlantic. 8 – Core zone and central reef of the mid-oceanic ridge: Indian Pacific segment, Indian Red Sea segment of the global mid-oceanic ridge system.

 


Comparative analysis of estimated resources and metal content in ores in the World Ocean and on-shore


Major types of oceanic raw minerals

World Ocean

On-shore

Estimated oceanic/on-shore resources ratio

Metals

Content

Estimated reserves

Metals

Content

Estimated reserves

Oxide ferromanganese deposits: nodules and crusts

Ni

0.6-1.4%

569.5 mln tons

Ni

0.3-2.44%

87.7 mln tons

6.5

Cu

0.4-1.2%

348.5 mln tons

Cu

0.6-4.0%

619.0 mln tons

0.56

Co

0.2-0.8%

339.2 mln tons

Co

0.1-0.6%

6.14 mln tons

55.2

Mn

20-42%

18153 mln tons

Mn

20-44%

15571 mln tons

1.2

Pt

0.5-0.8 gr/t

11.1 thous. tons

Pt

3.9-4.2 gr/t

24.0 thous. tons

0.47

Mo

0.04-0.06%

30.2 thous. tons

Mo

0.01-0.12%

11.6 thous. tons

2.6

Oxide ferromanganese deposits: nodules and crusts

Cu

3.73%

52.7 mln tons

Cu

0.6-4.0%

619.0 mln tons

0.08

Zn

8.93%

126.3 mln tons

Zn

4-10%

303.0 mln tons

0.4

Pb

4.14%

31.9 mln tons

Pb

0.5-12.0%

123.8 mln tons

0.23

Ag

186 gr/t

452.4 thous. tons

Ag

10-400 gr/t

505.0 thous. tons

0.9

Au

2.38 gr/t

2.27 thous. tons

Au

2-15 gr/t

61.8 thous. tons

0.04

 

The development of deposits is possible in a number of other areas; among them are the Peruvian and Californian Fields that are also promising in terms of mining of minerals. Al in all, there are about ten major areas for mining of nodules or other mineral sediments in the world.

 

But only up-to-date technologies are capable of solving complicated problems of development of deep-sea resources of the World Ocean. And the researchers and engineers who are looking into this matter have already discovered perfect materials that withstand the pressure at the depth of 5,000 meters, as well as they have designed unique control systems capable of conducting autonomous environmentally safe operations.

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