, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 63-75
Date: 28 Jul 2011

Distribution characteristics of seamount cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and the determination of the size of areas for exploration and exploitation

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In 2001, the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) initiated the consideration relating to the Regulations for Prospecting and Exploration for Hydrothermal Polymetallic Sulphides and Cobalt-rich Ferromanganese Crusts in the Area at its 7th session. Since then, the consideration of the Regulations has been mainly focused on the size of areas to be allocated for exploration and exploitation of the crusts. This paper, based on the investigation data and the analysis of the distribution characteristics of the crusts, suggests a model for determining the size of areas for exploration and exploitation of the crusts, taking into account various factors such as production scale, crust thickness and grade, mineable area proportion, recovery efficiency, exploration venture, and so on. Through the modeling, the paper suggests that the exploration area (the area covered by each application for approval of a plan of work for exploration of cobalt-rich crusts) shall be 4 856 km2 and the exploitation area (the mine site area) shall be 1 214 km2, for 20 years of 1 million wet tonnes annual production.

Foundation item: China International Seabed Area R & D Program under contract No. DYXM-115-01-1