Headline, July 26 2022/ ''' '' DEEPSEA -STUDENTS- DEAREST '' '''


 DEAREST '' '''

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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY : HOW MANY KNOWLEDGEABLE STUDENTS the world over - have heard about a patch of Pacific Ocean seabed called the Clarion Clipperton Zone [CCZ]? Welcome to The World Students Society!

CCZ is dotted with trillions of potato-sized lumped of nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper, all of which are of mighty interest to battery makers.

Collectively the modules hold an estimated 140 millions tonnes of nickel alone - more than three times the United States Geological Survey's estimate of the world's land-based reserves.

Companies have been keen to mine them for several years. With the expiry of July 9th in place, - of an international bureaucratic deadline, every prospect for the future in deep sea mining, looks darned stirring.

PUSHED BY THE THREAT of climate change, rich countries are embarking on a grand electrification project. Britain, France and Norway, among others, plan to ban the sale of new internal-combustion cars.

Even where bans are not on the statute books, electric-car sales are growing rapidly. Power grids are changing too, as wind turbines and solar panels displace fossil-fuelled power plants. The International Energy Agency [IEA] reckons the world will add as much renewable power in the coming five years as it did in the past 20.

All that means batteries, and lots of them - both to propel the cars and to store energy from international renewable power stations.  

Demand for the minerals from which those batteries are made is soaring. Nickel in particular is in short supply. The element is used in the cathodes of high quality electric-car batteries to boost capacity and cut weight.

The IEA calculates that, if it is to meet its decarbonisation goals, the world will need to be producing 6.3 million tonnes of nickel a year by 2040, roughly double what it managed in 2022. That adds up to some 80 million tonnes of nickel in total between now and then.

Over the past five years most of the growth in demand has been met by Indonesia, which has been bulldozing rainforests to get at the ore beneath. In 2017 the country produced just 17% of the world's nickel, according to CRU, ametals research firm.

Today it is responsible for around half, or 1.6 million tonnes a year, and the number is rising. CRU thinks Indonesia will account for 85% of production growth between now and 2027. Even so, that is unlikely to be enough to meet rising demand.

And as Indonesian nickel production increases, it is expected to replace palm-oil production as the primary cause of deforestation in the country.

'' It's better down where it's wetter '' : It is two years since the island nation of Nauru, on behalf of a mining company [TMC], told the International Seabed Authority [ISA], an appendage of the United Nations, that it wanted to mine a part of the CCZ to which it has been granted access.

That triggered a requirement for the ISA to complete rules on commercial use of the deposits. If those regulations are not readied, then the ISA is required to ''consider and provisionally approve'' TMC'S application.

TMC'S plan is about as straightforward as underwater mining can be. It's first target is a patch of CCZ called NORI-D, which covers about 2.5 million hectares of ocean floor [ an area about 20% bigger than Wales].

Gerard Barron, TMC's boss, estimates there are about 3.8 million tonnes of nickel in the area. Since the nodules are simply sitting on the bottom of the ocean, the firm plans to send a large robot to the seabed to hoover them up.

The gathered nodules will then be sucked up to the support ship on the surface through a high tech pipe, similar to the ones used in the oil-and-gas industry.

Mr.Barron says that his firm can break even on nodule collection at nickel prices as low as $6,000 per tonne; nickel currently sells for about $22,000 per tonne.

The support ship will wash off any sediment, then offload the nodules to a second ship which will ferry them back to shore for processing.

The surplus sediment, meanwhile, will be released back into the sea at a depth of around 1,500 metres, far below most ocean life. A Belgian firm called Global Sea Mineral Resources - a subsidy of Deme - a dredging giant, is also keen, and has tested a sea-floor robot and riser system similar to TMC's.

Three Chinese firms - Beijing Pioneer, China Merchants and China Minmetals are circling too, though they are reckoned to be further behind technologically.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational on Minerals, Elements, Science and Technology and the Future, continues. The World Students Society thanks The Economist.

With respectful dedication to the Scientists involved in Deep Sea Mining, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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