Pilot polymetallic nodule collector
- Following earlier harbor wet-testing, the Allseas-designed pilot nodule collector vehicle was deployed from the Hidden Gem and lowered to the seafloor in open sea conditions
- A range of critical drive functions were successfully tested, confirming the collector’s capability to manoeuvre forwards and backwards at various speeds and in different directions, as well as to lower and raise the nodule collector heads
- Allseas engineers successfully tested dynamic positioning systems aboard the Hidden Gem confirming the vessel’s ability to adjust speed and heading as the collector drives across the seafloor.
- 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
NEW YORK, March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — TMC the metals company Inc. (Nasdaq: TMC) (“TMC” or the “Company”), an explorer of the world’s largest estimated undeveloped source of critical battery metals, today announced the successful completion of its North Sea drive test program for the robotic polymetallic nodule collector vehicle designed by the Company’s strategic partner and shareholder, Allseas Group S.A. (“Allseas”).
During the drive test program performed in the Dutch Sector of the North Sea, the Allseas-designed collector vehicle underwent extensive testing of critical mobility and all systems were shown to be functional. Covering a distance of 4,533 meters, Allseas engineers put the collector vehicle through its paces, driving it forwards and backwards at various speeds, and in different directions. In addition, tests were undertaken to raise and lower the vehicle’s adjustable collector heads – another critical function.
“This North Sea drive test is a key milestone that not only shows that our collector can be remotely operated in open seas but that it can do so in parallel motion with the Hidden Gem’s dynamic positioning system,” said Gerard Barron, CEO & Chairman of The Metals Company. “The tests show that the collector can be controlled with a very high level of accuracy that will enable us to build and execute detailed mine plans that respect the bathymetry, sediment characteristics and ecology of the deep seafloor. These trials are proving what we always knew about Allseas, that they take on every engineering task with an unsurpassed attention to detail and this is why they have the highest level of success in the offshore industry.”
The accurate positioning and coordinated movement of the collector vehicle and Hidden Gem will be vital for planned future offshore operations and engineers successfully completed a variety of tests of the vessel’s dynamic positioning system, confirming its ability to adjust speed and heading as the collector drives across the seafloor.
Earlier this month, TMC and Allseas announced the successful wet-testing of the polymetallic nodule collector vehicle and, with this latest round of system tests 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).
Since 2019, Allseas and TMC have been working together to develop a pilot system to responsibly 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.
Development of technologies to collect polymetallic nodules first began in the 1970s when oil, gas and mining majors including Shell, Rio Tinto (Kennecott) and Sumitomo successfully conducted pilot test work in the CCZ, recovering over ten thousand tons of nodules. In the decades since, the ISA was established to develop the regulatory framework to govern mineral extraction in the high seas while technology development efforts have largely focused on scaling proven nodule collection technologies and optimizing for minimal seafloor disturbance and environmental impact.
About The Metals Company
TMC the metals company Inc. (The Metals Company) is an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, on a dual mission: (1) supply metals for the clean energy transition with the least possible negative environmental and social impact and (2) accelerate the transition to a circular metal economy. The company through its subsidiaries holds exploration rights to three polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean regulated by the International Seabed Authority and sponsored by the governments of Nauru, Kiribati and the Kingdom of Tonga. More information is available at www.metals.co.
Allseas is a world-leading contractor in the offshore energy market, with dynamism, rapid progress and pioneering spirit at its core. Allseas specialise in offshore pipeline installation, heavy lift and subsea construction. The company employs over 4000 people worldwide and operates a versatile fleet of specialised heavy-lift, pipelay and support vessels, designed and developed in-house.
More information about Allseas is available at www.allseas.com
Forward Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this press release are not historical facts but are forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements generally are accompanied by words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “expect,” “should,” “would,” “plan,” “predict,” “potential,” “seem,” “seek,” “future,” “outlook” and similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters, including related to upcoming trials in TMC’s NORI-D contract area and future offshore operations. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Most of these factors are outside TMC’s control and are difficult to predict. Factors that may cause such differences include, but are not limited to: Allseas ability to conduct a full pilot nodule collection trial in the Clarion Clipperton Zone; TMC’s ability to enter into definitive agreement(s) with Allseas with respect to the proposed strategic alliance to develop and operate a commercial collection system on terms and conditionals substantially similar to those set forth in the non-binding terms sheet; the successful completion of the pilot collection tests; TMC’s ability to obtain exploitation contracts for its areas in the CCZ; regulatory uncertainties and the impact of government regulation and political instability on TMC’s resource activities; changes to any of the laws, rules, regulations or policies to which TMC is subject; the impact of extensive and costly environmental requirements on TMC’s operations; environmental liabilities; the impact of polymetallic nodule collection on biodiversity in the CCZ and recovery rates of impacted ecosystems; TMC’s ability to develop minerals in sufficient grade or quantities to justify commercial operations; the lack of development of seafloor polymetallic nodule deposit; uncertainty in the estimates for mineral resource calculations from certain contract areas and for the grade and quality of polymetallic nodule deposits; risks associated with natural hazards; uncertainty with respect to the specialized treatment and processing of polymetallic nodules that TMC may recover; risks associated with collective, development and processing operations; fluctuations in transportation costs; testing and manufacturing of equipment; risks associated with TMC’s limited operating history; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; risks associated with TMC’s intellectual property; and other risks and uncertainties, including those under Item 1A “Risk Factors” in TMC’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2021, filed by TMC with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on November 15, 2021, and in TMC’s other future filings with the SEC. TMC cautions that the foregoing list of factors is not exclusive. TMC cautions readers not to place undue reliance upon any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date made. TMC does not undertake or accept any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect any change in its expectations or any change in events, conditions, or circumstances on which any such statement is based except as required by law.
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