DeepGreen Metals strategic acquisition of Tonga Offshore Mining

Canada’s DeepGreen Metals, a start-up planning to extract cobalt and other battery metals from small rocks covering the seafloor, has added a new area to its seabed portfolio, which it believes could potentially help it solve the bottleneck supply of critical battery metals needed for the world’s green energy transition.

The strategic acquisition of Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), announced Tuesday, gives the Vancouver-based company exploration rights to a third area inside the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ)  in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The 4,000-kilometre swath of ocean, stretching from Hawaii to Mexico, is known for containing enough nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese to build over 250 million electric vehicle batteries. The new licence covers 74,713 km2  of CCZ seabed, with an inferred resource of 756 million wet tonnes of polymetallic nodules — potato-sized metals-rich rocks that lie in a shallow layer of mud on the seafloor.

DeepGreen believes that producing critical battery metals from polymetallic nodules has the potential to eliminate or dramatically reduce most of the environmental and social impacts associated with traditional mining. “We believe now more than ever that the world needs to work together to find solutions to address climate change,” the company’s CEO and chairman, Gerard Barron, said in the statement.

The news follows DeepGreen’s offshore engineering partner Allseas’ recent acquisition of a former ultra-deepwater drill ship for conversion to a polymetallic nodule collection vessel. The vessel is being converted to accommodate a pilot nodule collection system. After the nodules have been collected and taken to shore they will be processed using a metallurgical flowsheet developed by DeepGreen.

Unlike other seafloor miners, the company doesn’t want to drill, blast or dig the bottom of the ocean. Its main goal is to scoop up small metallic rocks located thousands of metres below the surface in the North Pacific Ocean. The deep sea, more than half the world’s surface, contains more cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese and rare earth metals than all land reserves combined, according to the US Geological Survey.

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