ABSTRACT:

Technical innovation and cost-effective technology could bring about the commercialization of deep-ocean resources earlier in the 21st century than projected with today" s technology. Cost- and technology-sharing among the countries and/or companies would lower development cost. The industry should be given incentives for its participation in actual work and operations, hopefully with minimal government regulations. Some key technical issues for manganese nodule production system design are presented, and more issues will develop and have to be solved. The implications for economic growth and energy and mineral security require faster penetration by new technologies into the markets. One of the roles of the Ocean Mining Working Group (OMWG), a nongovernmental body, can be to act as an informal conduit among the governments.

DEEP-OCEAN MINERALS OF INTEREST

Our primary minerals of present interest in the deep ocean are manganese nodules and cobalt-rich manganese crusts, the former from a depth of 800 to 3,000 m and the latter from a depth of 3,000 to 6,000 m. Essential metals from the nodules and crusts are for steel and manufacturing aircraft, military equipment, machinery and cutting tools.

WHAT TOOK PLACE IN THE PAST?

One of the greatest technological innovations in ship and deep-oceantechnology of this century, I believe, is the deep-ocean mining system with the Hughes Glomar Explorer: A huge hole or moon pool (270 ft long) can be opened and closed in the bottom of the ship hull in the middle of the ocean. It deploys and retrieves a large, remotely controlled seafloor miner at the 6,000-m depth. Pipe handling and deployment are automated. What was done in the 70s? The U.S.-based industry consortia carried out their R&D programs in the " 70s as private enterprise and claimed their respective manganese nodule areas.

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