The Metals Company (TMC), formerly DeepGreen Metals, has successfully converted seafloor nodules from its pilot smelting campaign into alloy comprising critical battery metals.
For the campaign, TMC partnered with Expert Process Solutions (XPS) and received support from Hatch and Optimize Group.
The company said that it used a custom process derived from conventional nickel flowsheets for the pilot smelting project to segregate the nodules’ base metals into two concentrated streams.
These include an alloy containing critical metals essential for EV batteries and wiring, including nickel, cobalt, and copper; and a manganese silicate that can be sold direct to market and further processed to manganese alloy.
TMC onshore development head Dr Jeffrey Donald said: “From a metallurgical perspective, nodules are a great feedstock to work with.
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“They have high grades of valuable metals, few impurities, low variability, and come in shapes and sizes that make them very easy to handle, significantly reducing the cost and complexity of the processing.”
The company said that the new derivative brings it one step closer to realising its plan to build a full-scale metallurgical processing plant.
The plant is expected to contribute to the company’s aim to eliminate solid waste streams and harmful tailings and residues associated with conventional land-based metal mining and production.
TMC chairman and CEO Gerard Barron said: “These encouraging results show that nodules could provide an attractive alternative to land-based ores for securing high-volumes of the critical metals needed to achieve energy independence.
“With the potential to ship them anywhere in the world for processing, nodules could help solve national supply needs for important metals like nickel and manganese.”
The Metals Company is engaged in exploring lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules.