Deep-sea nodules – lower impact processing to enable the green transition
Deep-sea nodules from the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCZ) in the Pacific Ocean represent the largest known resource of nickel, cobalt and manganese on the planet – critical elements for lithium ion batteries needed to transition away from fossil fuels. Nodules are also a significant resource of copper – another element critical for the green transition. DeepGreen Metals, through sponsoring states of Nauru, Kiribati, and Tonga, is licensed to explore for minerals within the CCZ and has worked with Hatch to develop a flowsheet to process the contained nodules with minimal environmental impact. This paper reviews the importance of deep-sea nodules to the critical metals supply situation, considers the identified flowsheet and its selection basis, provides a detailed discussion on the flowsheet’s avoidance of waste, and covers the benefits of nodules as a source of metals in comparison to traditional land-based sources.