SUMMARY:

A brief observation of the developments in mining systems and technology in the past 2 to 4 years is presented. Discussions on the development of other deep-ocean resources that are somewhat similar to nodule production also include gas hydrates, Cobalt-rich manganese crusts, hydrothermal vents and deep-ocean water upwelling (DOW). Previous reviews of deep-ocean mining can be found in Chung (1985, 1994, 1997, 2003). The mining technology R&D schedule for manganese nodules appears to be in line with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) plan. R&D activities in nodule mining since the 90's are in their early learning stage relative to the major nodule mining technology R&D activities of the 70's.

INTRODUCTION

In the 90's, International Seabed Authority (ISA) contractors started developing technology for the ocean mining of manganese nodules from the deep ocean floor in the Pacific Ocean. The recent state of technological developments among the contractors who joined around the '90's is observed and summarized in terms of readiness for the development of large-scale mining systems. Used as a baseline for review is the R&D work performed in the '70s in deep-ocean mining technology and systems. The review includes discussions on the developments in the past 2 to 4 years. Recent technological developments do not yet appear to identify new issues. Technology developments in DOW and gas hydrate production are emerging, and they are included in this mining status, as their production can be similar to the lift systems for nodule and crust production. The seafloor disturbance by the miner and the moving collector discharge can be a major portion of environmental issues for the manganese nodule production, followed by sediment cleaning near the seafloor, and discharge from the ocean surface. This issue should be part of the mining system design (Chung, Schriever, Sharma and Yamazaki, 2002).

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