ABSTRACT:

At present, economic evaluation for all projects with polymetallic nodules (PMN) as a raw material for metallurgical industry are not sufficiently attractive for industrial and financial investors. It is pointed out that PMN as a raw material will have a major disadvantage in higher transportation cost, compared to the similar raw materials on the land. There is a need to overcome this disadvantage by identifying and adding ‘advantage(s)’ of processing PMN. One such method can be to integrate the processing of PMN with industries producing chemicals / energy. The basic technological idea is to utilize the unique physical and chemical properties of PMN in other processes before their final metallurgical processing. The main problems for such integration are high degree of innovation, finance, and the scale of operation. The international, interdisciplinary and intersector approach is necessary for solving this problem.

INTRODUCTION

Results of economic evaluation of projects based on polymetallic nodules (PMN) as a raw material for metal production (typically Ni, Co, Cu and Mn) are to date not attractive enough for investors to continue developing processes (Lenoble, 2000, Soreide, 2001). The potential investors seem to wait for the conditions to improve before restarting any project on PMN. But no specific condition, say metal prices, market conditions, cheaper processing technologies, cost decreasing, etc., is identified whose improvement will lead to a better investment atmosphere. It is obvious that an improved market condition will improve economic parameters of projects, and this argumentation is true for any project, including the projects based on the terrestrial deposits. This paper examines the possibilities of improving economics of processing PMN, based on the advantages of its unique characteristic properties. This paper qualitatively compares PMN with terrestrial raw material, economic feasibility of processing it, and ways and means to improve its economy.

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