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Developments in Mining Equipment and Pumps for Subsea and Inland Submerged Deposits
WODCON XX: "The Art of Dredging" - 2013, Brussels, Belgium
Kapusniak S, Tenwolde D, Winkelman MO
Abstract: This paper outlines developments in submerged mining machines for deep water applications. The equipment has evolved from proven core components in the offshore trenching and dredging industries. Take-up of leases in international water through the International Seabed Authority is increasing, as is associated exploration and prototype testing. The subsea mining industry has already emerged in shallow water and a number of deeper subsea mining applications are planned.
Exploration and extraction techniques used in oil and gas gradually developed and moved from land to offshore in the middle of the last century. Are we about to witness a similar shift with other minerals?
In addition to subsea applications, many onshore deposits can technically and theoretically be mined using currently available submerged mining ROV technology. Similar equipment to that in use subsea could easily be fast-tracked into use to extend the life of opencast mines facing severe hydrological problems. It could also be used to mine vertical ore-bodies where the stripping ratio has become uneconomical due to increasing depth. In some cases mining ROV’s could be suitable for use as the primary extraction method for a new mine.
This paper describes the design concepts of submerged mining equipment, targetted subsea mineral deposits, the suitability of submerged mining ROV’s for onshore deposits, limits to their application and parallel research and development activities which will help to accelerate the use of such equipment in the emerging submerged mining sector. Opening up onshore mining activities with submerged equipment could potentially solve several socio-political concerns and provide many other capital and operating cost benefits.
Keywords: mining, pumps, remote control, innovative combination of existing and new technologies