Monday, June 25, 2012

Screw the Asteroids: "DeepGreen strikes deal with Glencore for undersea mining metals"

I'm a bit late getting to this but when you see "Glencore" and a privately held Vancouver company in the same headline it gets my attention.
From Canada's Financial Post June 15:
The world’s largest commodity trader has endorsed speculative undersea mining as a handful of entrepreneurs continue to try to put the industry on the map.

Vancouver-based DeepGreen Resources Inc. has struck a deal with Glencore International Inc. under which the commodity giant agreed to buy 50% of the nickel and copper DeepGreen plans to produce from a seafloor project located west of Mexico.

DeepGreen is a private company founded by David Heydon, the man who built industry leader Nautilus Minerals Inc. and kick-started the underwater mining business. He has planned to take DeepGreen public in Toronto for more than a year, and Glencore’s commitment is a potential catalyst to attract investors to an IPO. The offering has already been delayed because of weak market conditions.

Mr. Heydon views the Glencore deal as evidence that DeepGreen — and seafloor mining as a whole — need to be taken seriously....MORE
And from the Wall Street Journal, June 4, 2012:

Next Frontier: Mining the Ocean Floor 
A new breed of small, specialized mining firms plans to dive deep undersea in a quest for rich sources of metals and minerals, as technology and demand make the seafloor increasingly attractive as the next big mining frontier.
Previous efforts to dig for deep-ocean deposits fizzled as the reserves were too expensive to mine or technologically out of reach. Now, new advances in robotics, computer mapping and underwater drilling—combined with historically high commodities prices—are reviving interest.
To be sure, costs and the innovative nature of the projects means that marine mining in the near term is far from given. That was underscored Friday, when Nautilus Minerals Inc., NUS.T  long expected to be the first to mine, announced delays to its project on the back of funding troubles.

Still, a handful of Canadian companies are close enough that they are signing up customers and finalizing drilling schedules and budgets.

Vancouver-based DeepGreen Resources Inc. announced last week that Swiss commodities trader Glencore International GLEN. PLC has agreed to buy half of the nickel and copper it plans to process from tennis-ball-sized nodules sitting almost three miles below the water's surface between Hawaii and Mexico. The nodules contain about 30% manganese, a metal used to make steel, along with cobalt, nickel and copper. DeepGreen hopes to begin production by 2020.

Diamond Fields International Ltd., DFI.T of Vancouver, British Columbia, plans to be using a ship or platform fitted with a nearly mile-long hose to vacuum up fine silt suspended near the bottom of the Red Sea by 2014. The company says the silt contains copper, zinc, silver and trace amounts of gold.

Earlier this year, Toronto-based Nautilus signed up its first customer for high-grade copper and gold that it hopes to be mining almost a mile below the South Pacific, in several sites off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It is having a system of submersible vehicles built that will plow the seabed and send mineral-rich slurry into pipes for processing on the surface. It had expected first production by the end of next year, but on Friday said that it is "in dispute" with Papua New Guinea over funding and warned of a possible delay in funding for the project's main vessel.

Since last summer, the International Seabed Authority, an independent body set up by the United Nations to regulate mining in international waters, has signed four new contracts with groups looking to explore the ocean floor, says Adam Cook, an ISA marine biologist. That is a jump from the eight contracts previously signed, six of which were inked over 12 years ago, Mr. Cook says. The new contracts include agreements with state and private organizations from Japan, Korea, Russia and China....MORE