• Mining robot stranded on Pacific Ocean floor in deep-sea mining trial | Reuters

    Patania II, a 25-tonne seabed mining robot, is lowered into the Pacific Ocean to begin a descent to the sea floor, in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean, April 2021.
    GSR/Handout via REUTERS

    A seabed mining robot being tested on the Pacific Ocean floor at a depth of more than 4 km (13,000 ft) has become detached, the Belgian company running the experimental trial said on Wednesday.

    Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR), the deep-sea exploratory division of dredging company DEME Group, has been testing Patania II, a 25-tonne mining robot prototype, in its concession in the Clarion Clipperton Zone since April 20.

    The machine is meant to collect the potato-sized nodules rich in cobalt and other battery metals that pepper the seabed in this area, and was connected to GSR’s ship with a 5km cable.

    On its final dive in the GSR area, a lifting point separated and Patania II now stands on the seafloor,” a GSR spokesman said in an emailed statement.

    An operation to reconnect the lifting point begins this evening and we will provide an update in due course.

    The GSR trial is being observed by independent scientists from 29 European institutes who will analyse data and samples collected by the robot in order to measure the impact of seabed mining.

    While several companies and countries have seabed exploration contracts, regulations governing deep-sea mining have not yet been finalised by the International Seabed Authority, a U.N. body.

    Critics, including environmentalist David Attenborough, say seabed mining is untested and has a largely unknown environmental impact. Google, BMW, AB Volvo, and Samsung SDI have backed a call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

    Dr Sandra Schoettner, deep-sea biologist at Greenpeace, said: “Losing control of a 25-tonne mining machine at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean should sink the idea of ever mining the deep sea.

    A spokesman for GSR said the company has not lost control of Patania II, and that projects like this always have challenges to contend with.

    GSR has said it will only apply for a mining contract if the science shows deep seabed minerals have advantages, from an environmental and social perspective, over relying solely on land mining.

    • DeepCCZ: Deep-sea Mining Interests in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

      Relicanthus sp.—a new species from a new order of Cnidaria collected at 4,100 meters in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ) that lives on sponge stalks attached to nodules.
      Image courtesy of Craig Smith and Diva Amon, ABYSSLINE Project.

      Polymetallic nodules are a potential mineral resource for copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese, and rare earth elements—metals that are becoming important for modern life, since they are used in making electronics like rechargeable batteries and touch screens, among other things. These nodules are found in various deep ocean regions, including the deep Pacific and Indian Oceans.

      The nodules of greatest mining interest are approximately potato-sized, and sit on the sediment surface across abyssal plains in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a region spanning 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) across the central Pacific Ocean, at depths of ~4,000 - 5,500 meters (12,000 - 18,000 feet).

    • A modern Eldorado: deep sea mining at the Clarion Clipperton Zone

      For those pinning their hopes on the future of deep sea mining, the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) is a modern-day El Dorado.

      Lying between Hawaii and Mexico, and spanning some 1.7 million square miles – that’s bigger than India’s total land area – the seabed in this area of the Pacific Ocean is believed to be home to billions of dollars’ worth of nickel, cobalt and rare earth metals.

      That’s what exploration players, who have tied their colours to the deep sea mining mast, are betting on. One such group is GSR (Global Sea Mineral Resources), a subsidiary of Belgium’s DEME Group, which in 2013 signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to prospect for ‘polymetallic nodules’ in the CCZ.

      Having secured exclusive exploration rights in the zone, in 2017 GSR trialled the Patania I, the first ever tracked soil-testing device to crawl along an ocean bed at a depth of 4,500 metres. This was done with the purpose of collecting soil performance data needed in the development of dredging technology.

      Caterpillars and cables: The Patania II deep sea nodule collector
      At the end of last year, the group unveiled the Patania II, a deep sea nodule collector designed to comb the sea floor for polymetallic nodules. The launch overlapped with the start of a new scientific study initiated through JPI Oceans, a four-year intergovernmental initiative aimed at enabling cooperation in marine and maritime research.

      According to GSR, the trialling of Patania II – named after the world’s fastest caterpillar – will assist in providing a clearer, scientific picture of the environmental aspects of the seafloor minerals industry.

      However, things haven’t gone quite to plan. In March it was revealed that Patania II’s launch had been postponed due to damage to its umbilical – a critical, 5km-long cable that powers and connects the collector to its surface support vessel. As of early June, no new launch schedule has been confirmed, Peter Ogden, a GSR spokesperson confirmed to MINE.

    • BG - Distribution of free-living marine nematodes in the Clarion–Clipperton Zone: implications for future deep-sea mining scenarios

      Mining of polymetallic nodules in abyssal seafloor sediments promises to address the growing worldwide demand for metallic minerals. Given that prospective mining operations are likely to have profound impacts on deep seafloor communities, industrial investment has been accompanied by scientific involvement for the assessment of baseline conditions and provision of guidelines for environmentally sustainable mining practices.

      Benthic meiofaunal communities were studied in four prospective mining areas of the Clarion–Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the eastern Pacific Ocean, arranged in a southeast–northwest fashion coinciding with the productivity gradient in the area. Additionally, samples were collected from the Area of Particular Environmental Interest no. 3 (APEI-3) in the northwest of the CCZ, where mining will be prohibited and which should serve as a “source area” for the biota within the larger CCZ. Total densities in the 0–5 cm upper layer of the sediment were influenced by sedimentary characteristics, water depth and nodule density at the various sampling locations, indicating the importance of nodules for meiofaunal standing stock.

      Nematodes were the most abundant meiobenthic taxon, and their assemblages were typically dominated by a few genera (generally 2–6) accounting for 40 %–70 % of all individuals, which were also widely spread along the CCZ and shared among all sampled license areas. However, almost half of the communities consisted of rare genera, each contributing less than 5 % to the overall abundances and displaying a distribution which was usually restricted to a single license area. The same observations (dominant and widely spread versus rare and scattered) could be made for the species of one of the dominant genera, Halalaimus, implying that it might be mainly these rare genera and species that will be vulnerable to mining-induced changes in their habitat.

    • avec la carte des concessions

      Figure 1 Overview map of geographical sampling region and different license areas studied. Exact sampling locations are indicated with white dots. Within the BGR area, two sites were sampled in close proximity, RA (reference area; left dot) and PA (prospective area; right dot). Colour code based on Vanreusel et al. (2016) and will be maintained throughout the rest of the paper.
      Base map modified from GEBCO (https://www.gebco.net, last access: 6 September 2019). Colour gradient from light to dark represents bathymetry.

    • (PDF) Unexpected high abyssal ophiuroid diversity in polymetallic nodule fields of the northeast Pacific Ocean and implications for conservation
      Compilation of study areas in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) and in the DISCOL Experimental Area (DEA, Peru Basin). Insets represent detailed maps of sampling locations in the IFREMER, GSR, IOM, BGR and UKSRL exploration licence areas for polymetallic nodules as well as in APEI3 (ISA protected area) and the DEA. Copyright for shapefiles (for CCZ area): © International Seabed Authority 2009-2019; copyright for raster file (bathymetry): © Natural Earth 2009-2020.

    • quelques unes des bestioles décrites dans l’article précédent

      Ophioleucidae sp. (sp37): (a) dorsal and ventral view, SO239_139_2. Asteroschema sp. (sp12): (b) in situ (upper left and right), specimen collected with the ROV KIEL 6000 in dorsal (lower left) and ventral (lower right) view, SO239_2113. Ophiocantha cosmica: (c) in situ (left), specimen collected with the ROV KIEL 6000 in dorsal view (right), SO239_130. Scale bars: 2 mm (a); 1 cm (b, c). Copyright (for in situ photos) ROV KIEL 6000 Team/GEOMAR Kiel.