Successful continuation of G-tec in deep sea mining exploration - Pacific Ocean - CP

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Since 2013, G-tec has been involved in the exploration of a deep sea mining license area, granted on 14th of January 2013 by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to the Belgian company Global Sea Mineral Resources NV (GSR). The license area has a surface area over 76,728 km² and is located in the eastern part of the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ) in the Pacific Ocean. Polymetallic nodules are heterogeneously distributed over the complete zone on top of the sediment-covered seafloor and comprise manganese, nickel, cobalt and copper.

Although the first nodules were discovered during the HMS Challenger Expedition of 1872-1876 and important investigations in the CCFZ were performed during the 1970s and 1980s, a lot still remains unknown. Much research is done in a broad spectrum of domains such as mining, geology, geography, biology and environment. G-tec participated in previous exploration campaigns organized by GSR in 2014 and 2015. A third campaign is scheduled in May/June 2017, in which G-tec will be involved.

The added value of G-tec on the GSR license area is summarized below:

Automated processing of images taken by an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)
  • The objective is to process these data in order to detect & characterize polymetallic nodules like shape, dimensions and geographical distribution.
Qualitative nodule coverage classification system using seafloor photogrammetry
  • Putting in place a first approach in making a resource estimation for the GSR license area based on the AUV images and validated with side-scan sonar data and box-core data.
  • The developed model will be updated when new data from future campaigns become available.
Data management
  • Managing onboard all data acquired during different in situ tests, like multi-core samples, dredge samples, CTD-data, etc.
  • Implementation of all processed data on the project in a GIS web application. The client and research partners can access the data in a user-friendly environment making it a valuable tool for all stakeholders.

G-tec’s objectives are to continue working in the domain of deep sea mining exploration and to gain knowledge in a step-by-step approach. To be continued…

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