A Ship that Can Mine 39,000 Tons of Ore Under Water

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In April this year, China launched the World’s first ship designed exclusively for mining deepwater seabeds.

What happened?

The vessel ‘Deep Sea Nautilus’ owned by Nautilus Minerals was launched at the Mawei Shipyards, China to enable deep sea mining.

The vessel is 745 feet long and capable of carrying 39,000 tons of ore in addition to 200 crew members and robots which enable deep-sea mining.

The vessel capable of mining 39,000 tons of ore from a mile under water has been scheduled to start mining gold and copper mining in the Solwara I, a mile-deep site in the coastal waters of Papua New Guinea.

Robots to lead the operation

Two underwater robots have been deployed for preparing and extracting ore from seabed deposits. The robot located on the furthest left mixes the pulverized minerals with seawater into a slurry that’s pumped up to the Deep Sea Nautilus, which would be floating on the surface a mile above.

Two robots are purpose-built for preparing and pulverizing the metal rich seabed; a third robot will mix the pulverized ore into a slurry, to be pumped up to the Deep Sea Nautilus for further processing. The Nautilus’s robots, like this excavator, are just as large as their land counterparts, but fully automated and designed to operate under in deep waters.

Nautilus Minerals

Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, a Chinese copper company, will be the first buyer of Nautilus Minerals’ ore. This kind of purchase further indicates ambitions for large-scale deep-sea operations by Chinese firms. Chinese mining companies already hold three mining licenses in the Pacific Ocean from the International Seabed Authority, while railroad equipment maker China Railroad Corporation purchased Soil Mechanics Dynamic, a leading manufacturer of underwater mining and construction equipment.

China’s deep-sea mining would enable the nation to maintain sovereign control over strategic resources like copper and rare earth minerals. Activities in international waters would also extend Chinese commercial presence in the global commons as well as further solidify Chinese claims to waters in the East and South China Seas. And, of course, the vast amount of oceanographic data gathered by deep sea mining could prove useful to military operations like submarine and anti-submarine warfare.

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Source: Popular Science

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