Review of Mining Rates, Environmental Impacts, Metal Values, and Investments for Polymetallic Nodule Mining

  • Rahul SharmaEmail author
  • Farida Mustafina
  • Georgy Cherkashov


This chapter reviews different mining rates for polymetallic nodules and evaluates the ensuing environmental impacts as well as metal production with respect to land reserves, metal prices, and projected investments. It is expected that these can be applied for different mineral deposits in other ocean basins as well.


Mining rates Environmental impacts Metal values Investments Polymetallic nodules 



The author acknowledges the inputs by Dr. TRP Singh, Ex-Deputy General Manager, Engineers India Limited, New Delhi, and Prof. P. K. Sen, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, during the preparation of this paper.


  1. Academie des Sciences. (1984). Les nodules polymetalliques. Faut-il exploiter les mines oceaniques? Paris: Gauthier-Villiars.Google Scholar
  2. Cormier, R., Kelble, C. R., Anderson, M. R., Allen, J. I., Grehan, A., & Gregersen, O. (2017). Moving from ecosystem-based policy objectives to operational implementation of ecosystem-based management measures. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 74(1), 406–413. Scholar
  3. Cronan, D. S. (Ed.). (2000). Marine mineral deposits handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  4. Dick, R. (1985). Deep-sea mining versus land based mining. In J. B. Donges (Ed.), The economics of deep-sea mining (pp. 2–60). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Durden, J. M., Lallier, L. E., Myrphy, K., Jaeckel, A., Gjerde, C., & Jones, D. O. B. (2018). Environmental impact assessment process for deep-sea mining in the ‘Area’. Marine Policy, 87, 194–202. Scholar
  6. Flipse, J. E., Dubs, M. A., & Greenwald, R. J. (1973). Pre-production manganese nodules activities and requirements. Mineral resources of the deep seabed, hearings of the sub-committee on minerals, materials and fuels of the US Senate Committee on Interior and Insular affairs (15 March) (pp. 602–700).Google Scholar
  7. Hein, J. R., & Koschinsky, A. (2014). Deep-ocean ferromanganese crusts and nodules, Chapter 11. In H. D. Holland & K. K. Turekian (Eds.), Treatise on geochemistry (Vol. 13, 2nd ed., pp. 273–291). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Herrouin, G., Lenoble, J. P., Charles, C., Mauviel, F., Bernard, J., & Taine, B. (1991). French study indicates profit potential for industrial manganese nodule venture. Transactions of Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, 288, 1893–1899.Google Scholar
  9. Hong, S., Kim, H.-W., Yeu, T., Choi, J.-S., Lee, T. H., Bae, D. S., & Lee, J.-G. (2019). Technologies for safe and sustainable mining of deep-seabed minerals. In R. Sharma (Ed.), Deep-sea mining and environmental issues. Cham: Springer International Publishers.Google Scholar
  10. ISA. (2008). Report on the International Seabed Authority’s workshop on Polymetallic nodule mining technology: Current status and challenges ahead (p. 4). Jamaica. ISBA/14/LTC/3: International Seabed Authority.Google Scholar
  11. ISA. (2013). Recommendations for the guidance of contractors for the assessment of the possible environmental impacts arising from exploration for marine minerals in the Area (p. 32). International Seabed Authority ISBA/19/LTC/8.Google Scholar
  12. Jauhari, P. J., & Pattan, J. N. (2000). Ferromanganese nodules from the Central Indian Ocean Basin. In D. S. Cronan (Ed.), Handbook of marine mineral deposits (pp. 171–195). Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kaufman, R. (1974). The selection and sizing of tracts comprising a manganese nodule ore body. In Pre-prints offshore technology conference, vol. II Houston, USA (pp. 283–289).Google Scholar
  14. Khadge, N. H., & Valsangkar, A. B. (2008). Geotechnical characteristics of siliceous sediments from the Central Indian Basin. Current Science, 94, 1570–1573.Google Scholar
  15. Kiselev, Y. (Ed.) (2016). Государственный доклад «О состоянии и использовании минерально-сырьевых ресурсов РФ в 2015 году». Министерство природных ресурсов и экологии РФ, Москва, Россия (pp. 101–266).Google Scholar
  16. Kotlinski, R. (2001). Mineral resources of the world’s ocean – their importance for global economy in the 21st century. In Proceedings of ISOPE ocean mining symposium, Szczecin, Poland (pp. 1–7).Google Scholar
  17. Lenoble, J. P. (1980). Polymetallic nodule resources and reserves in the North Pacific from the data collected by AFERNOD. Oceanology International, 80, 11–18.Google Scholar
  18. Lenoble, J. P. (1990). Future deep sea bed mining of polymetallic nodules. Issy-les-Moulineaux Cedex: IFREMER.Google Scholar
  19. Lenoble, J. P. (2000). A comparison of possible economic returns from mining deep-sea polymetallic nodules, polymetallic massive sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts. In Proceedings of the workshop on mineral resources (pp. 1–22). Jamaica: International Seabed Authority.Google Scholar
  20. Lodge, M. W., Segerson, K., & Squires, D. (2017). Sharing and preserving the resources in the deep-sea: Challenges for the international Seabed Authority. International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, 32, 427–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mero J. L. (1965). The mineral resources of the sea. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. 312 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Mero, J. L. (1977). Economic aspects of nodule mining. In G. P. Glasby (Ed.), Marine manganese deposits (pp. 327–355). Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Morgan, C. L. (2000). Resource estimates of the Clarion-Clipperton manganese nodule deposits. In D. S. Cronan (Ed.), A handbook of marine mineral deposits (pp. 145–170). Boca Raton: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  24. Morgan, C. L., Odunton, N., & Jones, A. T. (1999). Synthesis of environmental impacts of deep seabed mining. Marine Georesources & Geotechnology, 17, 307–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nyhart, J. D., Triantafyllou, M. S., Averback, J., Bliek, A., Sklar, B., Gillia, M., Kirkpatrick, D., Muggerridge, J., Nakagawa, R., Newman, J., & Will, A. (1983). A pioneer deep ocean mining venture (p. 274). Cambridge, MA., Sea Grant Program, June 1983: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  26. OMA. (1982). Application by Ocean Mining Associates for an exploration license, filed with NOAA, US Department of Commerce (18-2-1982).Google Scholar
  27. OMI. (1982). Application for and notice of claim to exclusive exploration rights for manganese nodule deposits in the NE Equatorial Pacific Ocean, filed with NOAA, US Deparment of Commerce (19-2-1982).Google Scholar
  28. Pearson, J. S. (1975). Ocean floor mining. Park Ridge: Noyes Data Corporation.Google Scholar
  29. Roth, R. (2018). Understanding the economics of seabed mining for polymetallic nodules. Presentation at International Seabed Authority Council Meeting, Jamaica, 6 March 2018.Google Scholar
  30. Sharma, R. (2011). Deep-sea mining: Economic, technical, technological and environmental consideration for sustainable development. Marine Technology Society Journal, 45, 28–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sharma, R. (2017a). Assessment of distribution characteristics of polymetallic nodules and their implications on deep-sea mining. In R. Sharma (Ed.), Deep-sea mining – resource potential, technical and environmental considerations (pp. 229–258). Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sharma, R. (2017b). Deep-sea mining: Current status and future considerations. In R. Sharma (Ed.), Deep-sea mining – resource potential, technical and environmental considerations (pp. 3–21). Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sharma, R. (2019). Environmental factors for design and operation of deep-sea mining system-based on case studies. In Environmental issues of deep-sea mining – impacts, consequences and management. Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.Google Scholar
  34. Siapno, W. D. (1975). Exploration technology and ocean mining parameters (p. 24). San Francisco: American Mining Congress Convention.Google Scholar
  35. Singh, T. R. P., & Sudhakar, M. (2015). Estimating potential of additional mine-sites for polymetallic nodules in Pacific and Indian Oceans. International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering, 8, 1938–1941.Google Scholar
  36. UNOET. (1987). Delineation of mine sites and potential in different sea areas. London: UN Ocean Economics and Technology Branch and Graham & Trotman Limited.Google Scholar
  37. Van Nijen, K., Passel, S. V., & Squires, D. (2018). A stochastic techno-economic assessment of seabed mining of polymetallic nodules in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone. Marine Policy, 95, 133–141. Scholar
  38. Volkmann, S. E., & Lehnen, F. (2018). Production key figures for planning the mining of manganese nodules. Marine Georesources and Geotechnology, 36, 360–375. DOI:10.1080/1064119X.2017.1319448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Volkmann, S. E., Kuhn, T., & Lehnen, F. (2018). A comprehensive approach for a techno-economic assessment of nodule mining in the deep sea. Mineral Economics, 31, 319–336. Scholar
  40. (2018). Authority has entered into 15-year contracts with twenty-seven contractors for exploration for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the international seabed area.Google Scholar
  41. Japan successfully undertakes large-scale deep-sea mineral extraction (26 September 2017).Google Scholar
  42. Metal prices for Mn, Ni, Cu, Co (June, 2018).Google Scholar
  43. Metal prices for Mn, Ni, Cu, Co (January, 2011).Google Scholar
  44. Nautilus completes successful trials in PNG (12 February 2018).Google Scholar
  45. U.S. Geological Survey (referred on September 2018).Google Scholar
  46. To calculate inflation over time (June, 2018).Google Scholar
  47. Wiltshire, J. C. (2017). Sustainable development and its application to mine tailings of deep sea minerals. In R. Sharma (Ed.), Deep-sea mining: Resource potential, technical and environmental considerations (pp. 423–444). Cham: Springer International Publishing AG.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Zepf, V., Simmons, J., Reller, A., Ashfield, M., & Rennie, C. (2014). Materials critical to the energy industry. An introduction (2nd ed., p. 94). London: British Petroleum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rahul Sharma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Farida Mustafina
    • 2
  • Georgy Cherkashov
    • 2
  1. 1.CSIR-National Institute of OceanographyDona PaulaIndia
  2. 2.Saint Petersburg State UniversitySaint PetersburgRussia

Personalised recommendations