DeepGreen Metals currently holds exploration rights to two polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. The seafloor nodules contain high grades of nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt.
Offshore contractor Allseas, one of DeepGreen's shareholders, is working with the Canadian deep-sea mining start-up to develop a mineral collection system to recover polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor and transfer them to surface.
Allseas has now bought the former drill ship ‘Vitoria 10000', which is 228 metres long, 42 metres wide, and can accommodate 200 people.
The ship will be converted to accommodate the pilot nodule collection system currently being engineered by Allseas. As a former drill ship, the ship's configuration is well suited for modifications that will enable the deployment at sea of a 4.5-kilometre-long riser, also being developed by Allseas.
Allseas founder and president Edward Heerema said: "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.
After the nodules have been collected and taken to shore, they will be processed using a metallurgical flowsheet developed by DeepGreen.
In partnership with the world's leading ocean scientists, DeepGreen said it was working on the world's largest integrated ocean surface-to-seabed research programme to fully understand the impact of collecting nodules from the ocean floor - something critics of the project are concerned about.