TMC, Allseas Wet-test Robotic Nodule Collector Vehicle in Port of Rotterdam

Credit: TMC
Credit: TMC

The Metals Company (TMC), a company extracting battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, said it had together with its strategic partner and shareholder, Allseas, successfully completed deployment and wet-test commissioning of their pilot robotic nodule collector vehicle.

Allseas-designed pilot nodule collector vehicle was deployed from the Hidden Gem (ex-Vitoria 10000) vessel and lowered to the seafloor.

All critical functions of the pilot collector vehicle were successfully tested ahead of full pilot nodule collection trials in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean later this year, TMC said.

During the harbor wet-test commissioning undertaken at the Port of Rotterdam, the Allseas-designed pilot collector vehicle underwent extensive equipment testing and all systems were shown to be fully functional. Key features and functions of the robotic vehicle including pumps, nozzles, manual and auto operating modes were successfully put through their paces while multiple operators gained extensive training on the equipment, TMC said. Allseas' Hidden Gem vessel - Credit: Allseas

Upcoming trials in TMC’s NORI-D contract area are expected to include deployment of a four-kilometer-long riser, an umbilical that provides power and control during seafloor operations, and a 500-meter-long flexible jumper hose to connect to the collector vehicle. 

"This is an important milestone and I am grateful to have such a competent and capable partner in Allseas to get us this far,” said Gerard Barron, CEO & Chairman of The Metals Company. “With Allseas managing the design, assembly, and testing of the pilot collection system, I believe we have the best minds in the business on the case. We expect to learn a great deal from the testing program this year.

"So far, things have gone smoothly but I am sure the Allseas team will have their share of challenges to solve along the way. Allseas and TMC share a desire to advance the NORI project swiftly and in a capital-conscious manner. We anticipate that the pilot system being tested by Allseas will be the basis for our first commercial production system — and last week we announced a non-binding term sheet outlining the overall framework and potential commercial terms for such an upgrade.”

Full pilot nodule collection trials

Credit: TMCWith initial wet-testing of the pilot collector vehicle now complete, Allseas engineers will begin preparations for full pilot nodule collection trials over an 8 km2 section of the NORI-D contract area in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean later this year.

"These trials are an integral part of the International Seabed Authority’s regulatory and permitting process and the environmental impact data collected both during and after this nodule collection test work will form the basis of the application for an exploitation contract by TMC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI)," TMC said.

Since 2019, Allseas and TMC have been working together to develop a pilot system to collect unattached polymetallic nodules from the seafloor and lift them to the surface for transportation to shore. Nodules contain high grades of nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt — key metals required for building electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy technologies.


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