Maersk Supply Service AHTS Embarks on Deep Sea Mining Study in Pacific

AHTS Maersk Launcher. Photo: Maersk Supply Service

A Maersk Supply Service AHTS has departed San Diego on its first deep sea mineral study in the ultra-deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The departure marks Maersk Supply Service’s first mineral mining voyage on behalf of the deep sea metal company, DeepGreen. The two companies began working together in 2017 to develop a method for harvesting small metallic rocks, known as polymetallic nodules, in a sustainable manner. The nodules contain metals such as copper, cobalt, manganese and nickel, which are valuable materials for electronics, as well as batteries used for renewable technologies.

The AHTS, Maersk Launcher, will target the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean at a water depth of 4,500 meters. The vessel is equipped with DP2. 

A total of five voyages are planned for 2018 and 2019. The first four will be centered around environmental studies and documentation of the seabed. The overall aim of the offshore work is to better understand the quality and quantity of nadules present and how to best extract them in a sustainable way.

“We are pleased to see that our specialised assets are being utlised in a unique and whole new market area. Although deep sea mineral recovery is in an early stage and production is a few years away, it is a promising business area with the potential for significant future growth and links into Maersk Supply Service’s overall strategy about diversifying its business into new marketing,” says CEO of Maersk Supply Service, Steen Karstensen.

All of the offshore work will occur under the regulation of the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority (ISA).

Maersk Supply Service has committed to supporting five marine voyages, including the contribution of two vessels as well as project services valued at $25 million, which will be converted to DeepGreen shares.

DeepGreen’s subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Research, will carry out scientific and resource surveys within a 75,000-square kilometer contract area, which was granted by the ISA.

“This voyage is a continuation of the work required in preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement that NORI aims to submit to the ISA, a necessary step to move the exploration license to exploitation license, which will enable NORI to bring these essential metals for our future to the surface where they will be treated onshore using DeepGreen’s patented processing technology, which aims to produce zero waste,” said Gerard Barron, CEO of DeepGreen. “We believe these future metals can be produced responsibly, protecting ocean health, while avoiding the deforestation, pollution and child labor that are too often a part of traditional mining.”