9 Feb 2024 12:31

Russia to start preparing for pilot ocean floor mining of iron, manganese ore after exploration

MOSCOW. Feb 9 (Interfax) - Russia will begin preparing for pilot mining of iron and manganese ore on the ocean floor upon the completion of geological exploration work, the head of the Federal Mineral Resources Agency (Rosnedra), Yevgeny Petrov said.

The world's ocean will become one of the main sources of mineral resources on the planet in 30-50 years, Petrov said in panel discussion on geology during Ecology Day at the Russia exhibition and forum at the VDNKh exhibition center in Moscow.

"If you take as an example iron-manganese concretions in the Pacific Ocean on which Russia is working, they have a high concentration of key metals for the Russian economy," Petrov said.

"Why has active development of the ocean floor begun today? The trend is being set by countries that do not have their own broad resource base. One of the advanced leaders is Japan. This country is limited in area, but given the growth of technology and economic development, it needs access to many types of mineral resources," he said.

"European countries also have an active presence in this arena. For example, Belgium and Norway have advanced considerably. As part of work on the ocean floor they are essentially already moving to pilot mining. In addition, China, which has made a big leap in construction of mining vessels, as well as development of deep-water equipment, can also clearly be considered a major leader," Petrov said.

As for Russia, the Soviet Union back in its day initiated a project to explore for mineral resources on the ocean floor, he said. "Now Russia has a huge amount of groundwork, including in work on areas in the ocean where we are doing exploration work. One can say without embellishment that these are the most explored areas of the world's oceans, where mining can soon start. Russia is now continuing work on the geological study of the areas. This is systemic work, it is being done by a large team of Russian institutes," Petrov said.

"On one contract, for iron-manganese ore, we will move to the stage of pilot mining in the next five to seven years. The necessary equipment is already being developed together with the Industry and Trade Ministry. Russia has accumulated a huge amount of experience developing deep-water equipment, but there are a number of components that still need to be designed," Petrov said.

"I stress once again, in our lifetimes we will already see how the world's oceans will become a key source of mineral resources. And we need to work on this. Russia, as a resource, mining country, with the needed experience and competencies, must not miss the opportunity and have a presence on this market, be competitive," Petrov said.

It was reported earlier that Russia has three contracts for work on the ocean floor, including one to explore for iron-manganese concretions in the Pacific, one to explore for deep-water polymetallic sulfides in the Atlantic and one to explore for cobalt-bearing ferromanganese crusts in the Pacific. The Natural Resources Ministry and Rosnedra are prospecting in international waters under Russia's obligations on contracts with the International Seabed Authority.