Marine Mining Market – Snapshot
The bottom of the world’s ocean contains a large amount of reserves of precious metals and other resources. Seabed mining has the potential to meet the demand for various minerals that are used across the globe. Mining could take place in a country’s own exclusive economic zone or on the seafloor under international waters, where the International Seabed Authority mandates that a portion of all mining profits should be given to developing nations.
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Currently, the global demand for copper stands at around 24 million metric tons. Majority of copper is used in electrical and electronic products, construction materials, and traditional transportation equipment. Metals such as zinc and manganese and rare earth materials such as cobalt are used in high-tech devices (from cell phones to computers). Advanced technologies are being adopted increasingly across the globe. This is expected to boost the demand for these materials in the near future. Supply of these materials on land is relatively limited.
Rapid Industrialization in Developing Nations
Manufacturing and service industries have been expanding in developing countries such as India, China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Brazil since the last few years. Construction and shipbuilding industries in Asia Pacific have been expanding at a rapid pace due to the significant increase in number of projects. This is anticipated to propel the demand for metals and minerals.
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Increase in disposable income and rise in demand for durable goods such as automobiles and household equipment with high mineral or metal content are estimated to fuel the market. Furthermore, several international developers plan to set up their businesses in emerging economies through FDI incentive schemes. This is estimated to indirectly boost the economies of countries and industrialization. Rise in industrialization is projected to propel the marine mining market, primarily due to the increase in demand for metal products.
Mining on land creates environmental concerns, while there are multiple additional potential environmental issues with marine mining. Physical disturbance and destruction of habitat and fauna are key concerns that can adversely impact marine eco-systems. Areas with polymetallic nodules are natural habitats for fauna, which are susceptible to damage from mining activities. Modification of natural waves is a concern. Potential for pollution from spills from vessels and other infrastructure involved in deep sea mining processes is also a concern. Presence of such environmental issues is likely to hamper the market during the forecast period.
Introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions in Mining
Deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in the mining industry has substantially improved the operating environment in the last few years. IoT solutions range from big data analytics for predictive maintenance to digital tailings monitoring for operational safety. Big data analytics has become the buzzword in the mining industry. Recently, IBM unveiled a big data analytics tool, through which mining companies can monitor wear and tear, thereby ensuring uninterrupted performance of mining equipment and prevention of failure. Real-time data analytics and predictive analytics improve quality and efficiency of daily operations by providing data on equipment history, such as equipment maintenance, repair history, and fuel consumption rates, in real time. Therefore, mining companies are increasingly implementing analytics solutions to enhance machine reliability and efficiency. This, in turn, is encouraging providers of smart mining solutions to introduce advanced analytic solutions. Hence, introduction of internet of things (IoT) solutions in mining provides an opportunity for marine mining service providers.
Expansion, Acquisition, and New Contracts in Marine Mining
In March 2018, Nautilus Minerals Inc. announced it had launched its production support vessel at the Mawei shipyard in China. The vessel is expected to be used by Nautilus Minerals Inc. and its partner, Eda Kopa Limited, at the Solwara 1 Project site in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea. In February 2018, Nautilus Minerals Inc. announced that the Government of Papua New Guinea granted a two-year exploration license to the company. The license is expected to allow the company to conduct exploration activities in the southeast Bismarck Sea. The Exploration License EL2537 covers 2,558 sq.km, and includes the same prospective geology that hosts Nautilus’ Solwara 1 deposit. In May 2017, Nautilus Minerals Inc. announced that the company’s Launch and Recovery System (LARS) equipment, which was built by AxTech on behalf of Soil Machine Dynamics, had arrived at the Mawei shipyard in China. LARS consists of large A-frames, winches, and ancillary equipment.
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