Toronto Geological Discussion Group
Recent Advances in Ocean Mining - Steve Scott
Driven by a perceived decline in mineable deposits on land of significant grade, entrepreneurial explorers are moving into the deep sea. Here are known to exist vast deposits of seafloor massive sulfides (copper, zinc, lead, silver, gold), manganese nodules (copper, nickel, cobalt, molybdenum), phosphate (apatite) for fertilizer and iron-manganese crusts on seamounts (cobalt, nickel, PGE). The Australian-based Canadian company Nautilus Minerals is in an advanced stage of preparation for mining their Solwara 1 deposit at 1600 metres water depth in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea which is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018. Three robotic mining machines are undergoing testing and a specialized ship is being constructed in China. There is renewed interest and activity in manganese nodules exploration with the entry of private companies, including Nautilus, partnering with Pacific island nations as is required by the International Seabed Authority. Phosphate deposits offshore New Zealand, Mexico and Namibia are being assessed for exploitation. None of these are without solvable environmental issues.
Steve Scott is an Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto and the Director of its Scotiabank Marine Geology Research Laboratory. He is a geologist /oceanographer specializing in mineral deposits that are forming on the ocean floor. Steve co-discovered with an Australian colleague the Solwara 1 base and precious metal hot spring (“black smoker”) massive sulfide deposit offshore eastern Papua New Guinea that will likely become the first deep-sea mining operation in the world by the Canadian company Nautilus Minerals. Steve holds an honorary degree from France, an honorary professorship from China, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received 8 prestigious awards for his research, the most recent in August 2015 being the Society of Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits’ SGA-Newmont Gold Medal. Although retired, Steve remains active in research and consulting (Marine Mining Consultants). He and his wife, Joan, live in Toronto and on the Brittany seacoast of France.
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