Polymetallic Nodules Successfully Collected by GSR’s Patania II at 4500m water depth
It’s one small rock for humankind. In a landmark feat of modern engineering, rock-like nodules – rich in nickel, cobalt, manganese and copper – have been successfully collected by an underwater robot during a scientific and environmental trial in the deep Pacific Ocean.
First discovered almost 150 years ago during HMS Challenger’s epic voyage to chart the ocean, these polymetallic nodules could become critical to meeting climate change goals and supporting sustainable development.
Scientists from 29 European institutes observed as a pre-prototype nodule collector developed by Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR) was deployed 4.5 kilometres beneath the sea surface where it traversed the seabed collecting nodules.
This sea trial is a world-first. The nodule collector, named Patania II, is equipped with environmental sensors and cameras. The data and samples collected during the trial will expand understanding of the real-world environmental effects of collecting nodules. To date, scientists have had to rely solely on hypotheses, less realistic field and laboratory simulations and computer models.
The deep seabed minerals industry remains in the exploration, research and development phase. Over the coming years GSR will ensure that the necessary detailed scientific work is carried out before any commercial activity takes place.
GSR is on a journey to discover whether polymetallic nodules could become one of the most environmentally and socially responsible ways of sourcing the metals the planet needs. The scientific trials announced today are central to that quest and will help ensure that decisions are made on the best available scientific evidence.