Acta Oceanologica Sinica

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 63-75

First online:

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

  • Gaowen HeAffiliated withGuangzhou Marine Geological Survey Email author 
  • , Weilin MaAffiliated withSecond Institute of Oceanography, State Ocean Administration
  • , Chengbing SongAffiliated withChina Ocean Mineral Resources R & D Association
  • , Shengxiong YangAffiliated withGuangzhou Marine Geological Survey
  • , Benduo ZhuAffiliated withGuangzhou Marine Geological Survey
  • , Huiqiang YaoAffiliated withGuangzhou Marine Geological Survey
  • , Xunxiong JiangAffiliated withBeijing General Research Institute of Mining & Metallurgy
  • , Yongshou ChengAffiliated withNational Marine Information Center

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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.

Key words

cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts exploration and exploitation area seamounts regulation on exploration