- Researchers with Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI) successfully gathered further environmental data on ecosystem recovery and functioning as part of its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to characterise the potential impacts of proposed polymetallic nodule collection operations.
- Despite illegal disruptions from Greenpeace International aimed at hindering the collection of environmental data, researchers were able to complete the major components of the scientific work scope slated for the campaign, and are encouraged by preliminary qualitative assessments.
- Scientists used several seafloor sampling devices, a remotely operated vehicle and lander systems to assess impacts to biota, seafloor geochemistry and ecosystem recovery on the seafloor in the NORI-D area of the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ).
- Building on the rich data gathered from 20 offshore campaigns over the last 11 years, with cumulative ESIA spending of ~$150 million, the results from the latest campaign will inform NORI’s application to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for a commercial exploitation contract.
NEW YORK, Dec. 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Metals Company (Nasdaq: TMC) (“TMC” or “the Company”), an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, today announced the conclusion of its latest offshore scientific research campaign to assess seafloor impacts and recovery rates twelve months after the pilot nodule collection system test conducted by its NORI subsidiary.
Despite illegal disruptions from Greenpeace International aimed at hindering the collection of key environmental data requested by the ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission, researchers were able to complete the major components of the scientific work scope slated for the campaign. The data gathered will further support NORI’s application to the International Seabed Authority for a commercial exploitation contract, which it expects to submit following the July 2024 meeting of the ISA.
The team selected 19 sampling stations in the locality of last year’s nodule collection system test and conducted 39 multicore deployments, recovering 395 individual core samples. These yielded more than 600 subsamples that will be shared with independent researchers from leading marine research institutions for further biological analysis.
Additionally, using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the research team deployed innovative seafloor lander systems that are capable of measuring seafloor oxygen fluxes using eddy covariance methods. This resulted in over 600 hours of data acquisition at a maximum deployment depth of 4285m, which NORI believes is the first time these bespoke sensor suites have been deployed at abyssal depths. This data is further supplemented by over one thousand core sub-samples for geochemical analysis.
Dr Michael Clarke, TMC’s Environmental Manager, said: “Despite attempts to disrupt our offshore scientific program the data collected is more than sufficient to meet our objectives for the campaign. This new information provides an insight as to the scale of seabed disturbance from nodule collection and how the benthic communities respond over time. Using the data collected during our decade-long research program, we can now conduct a robust, data-driven assessment of the impacts of nodule collection on the marine environment. We look forward to presenting the findings of our studies to the ISA and stakeholders in the coming year.”
Using the ROV, the team gathered over 30 hours of dedicated video footage of the seafloor, with particular focus on sessile organisms. Based upon a preliminary qualitative assessment, organisms identified during NORI’s environmental baseline studies are still present twelve months on in areas that have been influenced by the seafloor plume. This data will be shared with researchers for further analysis.
Researchers also conducted the fourth annual recovery and redeployment of three oceanographic moorings within NORI-D. The sensor payload on the moorings provides insights into the soundscape, regional oceanographic currents, and particulate organic carbon flux in the Eastern CCZ region. This data contributes to the long-term oceanographic time series and importantly will cover the El Niño-Southern Oscillation fluctuations.
Earlier this month, NORI began sharing emerging data on the characteristics of seafloor sediment plumes. In line with its commitment to share this key environmental data with society, NORI also convened a global stakeholder webinar attended by over two hundred people to provide an update on its environmental program [watch here].
NORI’s latest environmental campaign adds to the significant research conducted in the deep sea. Since the late 1960s, over 300 hundred offshore campaigns have been conducted in international waters with over $2 billion invested in environmental baseline and impact studies and technology development, with most of the capital invested by private companies. To address knowledge gaps, governments and contractors like NORI have spent over 9,000 days – the equivalent of almost 25 years – at sea, assessing the deep-sea environment, research and investment which has accelerated significantly since the establishment of the ISA’s exploration regime.
About The Metals Company
The Metals Company is an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, on a dual mission: (1) supply metals for the global energy transition with the least possible negative impacts on planet and people and (2) trace, recover and recycle the metals we supply to help create a metals commons that can be used in perpetuity. The Company through its subsidiaries holds exploration and commercial rights to three polymetallic nodule contract areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean regulated by the International Seabed Authority and sponsored by the governments of Nauru, Kiribati and the Kingdom of Tonga. More information is available at www.metals.co.
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Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking” statements and information within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may be identified by words such as “aims,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “could,” “estimates,” “expects,” “forecasts,” “goal,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” “possible,” “potential,” “seeks,” “will” and variations of these words or similar expressions, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, TMC’s expectations with respect to the success of its recently completed offshore campaign, the results, outcomes or assessments of the campaign and the data generated during the campaign respectively. The Company may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in these forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Actual results or events could differ materially from the plans, intentions and expectations disclosed in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including, among other things: the Company’s strategies and future financial performance; the International Seabed Authority’s (“ISA”) ability to timely adopt the Mining Code and/or willingness to review and/or approve a plan of work for exploitation under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS); the Company’s ability to obtain exploitation contracts or approved plans of work for exploitation for its areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone; regulatory uncertainties and the impact of government regulation and political instability on the Company’s resource activities; changes to any of the laws, rules, regulations or policies to which the Company is subject, including the terms of the final Mining Code, if any, adopted by ISA and the potential timing thereof; the impact of extensive and costly environmental requirements on the Company’s operations; environmental liabilities; the impact of polymetallic nodule collection on biodiversity in the Clarion Clipperton Zone and recovery rates of impacted ecosystems; the Company’s ability to develop minerals in sufficient grade or quantities to justify commercial operations; the lack of development of seafloor polymetallic nodule deposit; the Company’s ability to successfully enter into binding agreements with Allseas Group S.A. and other parties in which it is in discussions, if any; uncertainty in the estimates for mineral resource calculations from certain contract areas and for the grade and quality of polymetallic nodule deposits; risks associated with natural hazards; uncertainty with respect to the specialized treatment and processing of polymetallic nodules that the Company may recover; risks associated with collective, development and processing operations, including with respect to the development of onshore processing capabilities and capacity and Allseas Group S.A.’s expected development efforts with respect to the Project Zero offshore system; the Company’s dependence on Allseas Group S.A.; fluctuations in transportation costs; fluctuations in metals prices; testing and manufacturing of equipment; risks associated with the Company’s limited operating history, limited cash resources and need for additional financing; risks associated with the Company’s intellectual property; Low Carbon Royalties’ limited operating history and other risks and uncertainties, any of which could cause the Company’s actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, that are described in greater detail in the section entitled “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 27, 2023, as updated in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC on August 14, 2023, as well as in other filings the Company may make with the SEC in the future. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof, and the Company expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained herein, whether because of any new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise, except as otherwise required by law.
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