Drillship to Be Converted for Subsea Mining
Swiss-based offshore contractor Allseas said it has acquired an ultra-deepwater drillship for conversion to a polymetallic nodule collection vessel.
In partnership with deep sea mining company DeepGreen Metals Inc., Allseas is developing a deep-sea mineral collection system to recover polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor and transfer them to the surface for transportation to shore. The nodules contain high grades of nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt—key metals required for building electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy technologies.
The former Vitoria 10000 will be converted to accommodate the pilot nodule collection system currently being engineered by Allseas. As a former drillship (228 meters long, 42 meters wide, with accommodations for 200 people), her configuration is well-suited for modifications that will enable the deployment at sea of a 4.5 kilometer-long riser currently being developed by Allseas. After the nodules have been collected and taken to shore they will be processed using a metallurgical flowsheet developed by DeepGreen.
“Allseas is excited to be involved in the exploration of the deep ocean for these important metals” said Allseas Founder and President Edward Heerema. “Deep-sea polymetallic nodule collection represents a new frontier and a new exciting chapter in Allseas’ history. With our offshore expertise and innovative capability, we can develop creative technical solutions for this new industry.”
Allseas expects the vessel to be operational for pilot nodule collection tests by mid 2021.
“To have partners like Allseas bring their engineering excellence and passion to help get this industry started makes us, and the industry, very fortunate,” said DeepGreen Chairman and CEO Gerard Barron.
“The green transition is going to require hundreds of millions of tonnes of nickel, copper and cobalt, and our research shows that ocean polymetallic nodules could provide society with these critical minerals at a fraction of the environmental and social impacts associated with land-based extraction.”
In partnership with ocean scientists, DeepGreen is currently undertaking an integrated ocean surface-to-seabed research program to fully understand the impact of collecting nodules from the ocean floor. In addition to generating new scientific knowledge of the Pacific Ocean, insights generated from this research will enable Allseas to design technology solutions that minimize environmental impact of nodule collection operations.