MarineE-tech: marine ferromanganese deposits — a major resource of E-tech elements
MarineE-tech is £4.2M programme funded through both NERC (UK) and FAPESP (Brazil). It address a major potential source of elements (E-tech elements), identified as critical to environmental technologies, for which there are concerns about security of supply.
This research will enhance understanding of the processes controlling E-tech element cycling and concentration in deep-ocean ferromanganese (Fe-Mn) deposits. In particular, by deploying autonomous and robotic underwater vehicles, instrument moorings, and novel sampling methodologies, we will test hypotheses for the environmental controls on metal concentration and deposit richness at a regional to local scale. Using a geometallurgical approach, we will also assess the potential for recovery of E-tech elements from these deposits using low carbon extraction technologies such as ionic liquids, nano-fibres and bio-processing. These core objectives will be complimented by an assessment of the potential ecological disturbance resulting from recovery of these resources from sensitive marine environments, where the regulatory framework and best practice is yet to be established. We will explore governance and sustainability issues around deep-sea mineral deposits, especially those involving small nation states and with developing economies. Our partnership spans industry, academia and policy makers and includes the University of San Paulo (Brazil), the University of Bath, the British Geological Survey, SOPAC and the South Pacific Island Communities, the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority, HR Wallingford, Gardline Ltd., and Soil Machines Division Ltd. Gateshead. The programme is led by Prof. Bramley Murton, of the Marine Geosciences Group, at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK.