With more than 25 years of expertise in subsea operations, Enshore Subsea is taking the first steps in establishing this new sector for the region.
Working in partnership with OSBIT a specialist engineering company, also based in the North East of England, Enshore designed and fabricated its first Seabed Mineral Collector and recently completed a world-leading first phase project in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean, recovering more than 75 tonnes of Polymetallic Nodules.
Polymetallic nodules are small rock concretions containing high concentrations of manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel, and can be found in vast areas of the world’s sea beds in significant volumes, enough to provide battery materials to electrify the world’s fleet of vehicles many times over.
The UK is among a few pioneering countries, which have substantial seabed exploration rights, providing the opportunity to develop a new industry bringing significant benefits to the North East.
The recovery of polymetallic nodules from the seabed will mitigate many of the major concerns connected with conventional land-based mining. The nodules are comprised of effectively 100% usable materials, and since they sit atop the seabed they do not require digging, drilling or blasting to recover the critical minerals.
Currently, electric vehicle battery elements are mined in regions of high biodiversity such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa, where children are known to labour in abhorrent conditions. Research shows that minerals such as nickel, cobalt and copper can be processed from polymetallic nodules with a fraction of the environmental and social impacts compared to current terrestrial mining practices.
Enshore has developed a novel method that both reduces the impact on the subsea environment and minimises plumes of seabed materials being generated during the recovery process.