Premier Gold Worldwide – Deep-sea mining ‘gold rush’ – Deriving critical metals from the seafloor

March 24 21:18 2020
Premier Gold Worldwide - Deep-sea mining ‘gold rush’ - Deriving critical metals from the seafloor

CHINA – March 24, 2020 – Premier Gold Worldwide are focusing a new source of critical base metals to meet global demand for scaling up electric vehicles and energy storage. The team recently announced it had successfully derived an alloy of base metals from poly-metallic nodules found on the deep ocean floor.

A vast resource of essential metals – nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese – are contained in poly-metallic nodules that sit four to five miles deep on the ocean floor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Pacific Ocean. Global demand for these metals, which are essential components of the batteries that power electric cars and other technologies, is predicted to skyrocket.

Using nodules obtained from a recent expedition to the CCZ, PGW and its onshore partner’s, replicated the calcination and smelting processes that were initially developed in the 1970s and obtained an iron-rich alloy nugget containing high recoveries of the pay metals nickel, copper and cobalt. A manganese silicate product, attractive as feed for the manganese-alloy industry, was also produced. The company is doing further test work and engineering that will lead to a pilot plant project next year to demonstrate the metallurgical flow sheet at scale to produce nickel & cobalt sulfate and copper cathode products with zero solid waste.

As Beijing seeks to shore up its dominance as a global metals supplier, state governed mining companies are funding research to build vessels equipped with diggers to trawl the watery depths for precious minerals and metal deposits. Deep-sea mining begun off the coast of Papua New Guinea in early-2019, the technologies used were the first of their kind.

Its development highlights how China is increasingly turning to the ocean to secure control of resources to fuel its high-tech electronics industry. Modern technological innovations have made deep-sea mining is a much more realisable feat than it was years ago. China supplies 95 per cent of the world’s rare earth – metals used in making nearly all today’s electronics products.

But global demand for green-tech products such as wind turbines and solar panels, which depend on rare earth metals, may outstrip even China’s land-based supply.

A series of volcanic fissures between tectonic plates – the “ring of fire” – allowed fantastically shaped deposits containing high concentrations of precious elements to form along the Pacific seabed.

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