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Deep Seabed Minerals

Many believe the deep seabeds hold the key to overcoming the looming world shortage of minerals needed as we accelerate towards electrification from renewable resources.

Electric Vehicles (EV), solar and wind power require great quantities of minerals and the existing supply chains of mines and minerals recovered from waste management is not expected to be sufficient to meet the growing energy demand.

So the race is on to explore the seabed for minerals that can be extracted viably on a sufficient scale, without damaging the environment and biological diversity. But the responsible harnessing of this potential resource poses a high risk to businesses and so expert support will prove crucial.

The expertise in geology needed to find the needle in a haystack

AGR geologists and geophysicists from our Reservoir Management & Subsurface division have the expertise essential to work on geodynamic models and can interpret the geophysical data required to locate seabed minerals.

With the well-established industry network, we have access to the tools and the resources needed for new exploration programmes in this field. The technology and our service providers cover a full understanding of all the challenges investors and operators will face.

We are also able to give clients searching for seabed minerals traditional geological modelling of dynamic earth, faulting and geomechanics together with tectonic stress analysis essential to the quest.

Seabed minerals are associated with global tectonic borders of spreading and subduction zones, subsea volcanism and abyssal plains. Until now, the main investigations into locating them have been undertaken by research institutes and governmental scientific cruises driven by geopolitical interests and new industrial strategies.

Together with other industry leaders, we provide the foundation for further commercial exploration and possible exploitation development.

At the time of writing this insight, no commercial production of seabed minerals at a great depth (deeper than 500m) has taken place. The seabed minerals targeted for mining are estimated to be at depths of 800m to 5,000m. Exploration and appraisal at these depths will be expensive and the modelling and simulation of geological scenarios must be done with great care to enable accurate location focus.

Deep ocean covers 70% of the Earth and it has been said that finding the seabed mineral deposits needed for this purpose will be like searching for a needle in a haystack, without knowing which haystack to investigate.

A new area of energy exploration built on proven disciplines

Although a new field of exploration, seabed minerals investigation programmes can be built on trusted processes and proven disciplines.

AGR has a long history of expert analysis of resource potential in oil and gas, with a similar approach used by the mining industry as a basis for investment decisions.

Our thirty five plus years of energy experience enables us to provide expert advice on the design of the evaluation process for determining the resource potential of prospective deposits.

We are able to evaluate and present independent resource potential, including CAPEX and OPEX estimates.

An expert and responsible partner for a new journey

However important seabed mineral developments might prove to be in the energy transition, we are duty bound to advise clients that to this day no commercial mineral exploitation has taken place in the deep sea.

The prospective increases in demand and potential price for these minerals mean the economic future of seabed minerals is not easy to predict. This is a business of high risk, but equally high reward.

For clients ready to embrace these risks, AGR is an independent partner with a strong ethical approach to presenting evaluations that can be relied on for responsible decision making and investment planning.

Our services in this area include:

  • Geomodelling of earth’s crust and areas of interest for mineral exploration in deep sea
  • Design and analysis of seabed mineral exploration
  • Analysis and evaluation of potential resources and cost for exploration appraisal and production

The focus of our evaluation for seabed exploration is based on forecasts of the minerals that will be needed over the coming decades and their probable types of ocean geology:

  • Seabed Massive Sulphides (SMS) found near slow-spreading oceanic ridges at 1500- 3000m depth; rich in copper, zink, gold, silver and rare earth minerals
  • Polymetallic Nodules found on the deep sea abyss 3000-5000m deep, rich in manganese, nickel, copper, cobalt zinc, molybdenum and rare earth minerals
  • Cobalt Crusts found as coatings of deepsea mounds at 800-2500m deep, rich in cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel and great amounts of rare earth minerals
  • In the Norwegian exclusive economic zone, occurrences of cobalt crust and seabed massive sulphides look promising, whereas polymetallic nodules seem to be more unlikely for commercial exploitation.

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