REMOTE-CONTROLLED UNDERWATER MINING APPARATUS
The remote-controlled underwater mining apparatus (RCUMA) for the mining of ferromanganese nodules at the depth of 6,000 meters consists of the following main elements:
• a remote-controlled underwater apparatus with devices for collecting and grinding nodules to be conveyed to the vessel;
• vertical hydrotransport system with intermediate pumping stations for pulp;
The remote-controlled underwater mining apparatus is designed according to the principle of the Underwater Vehicle, Patent No. US 9,650,118 B2 dated May 16, 2017, with controlled buoyancy. The apparatus submerses to the working depth of 6000 meters with the help of a ballast system consisting of three spheres.
When approaching the bottom, the apparatus takes zero buoyancy.
Nodules are collected from the seabed by a rotating chain collection device with special lattice grips. The operation principle is based on the vertical introduction of grips into the ground and collection of nodules without disturbing the seabed relief. This collection principle allows mechanical harvesting of nodules from silt with minimal stirring up of the silt within the mining site, thus preserving deep-water fauna in the mining area.
The nodules are unloaded into a receiving tank and, with the help of elevators, are conveyed to the nodule pre-processing chamber.
In the pre-processing chamber, the nodules are crushed to the fraction necessary for their vertical lifting by the hydrotransport system. A screw feeder and high-pressure pump convey concentrated pulp from the underwater apparatus through a flexible pipe to the pumping station tank, and then the pulp is pumped into the vessel.
The apparatus is equipped with a navigation system, a propulsion steering unit. For maintenance and repair, the operator switches the apparatus into positive buoyancy and the apparatus rises to the surface.