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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Innovative Mining of Marine Mineral Resources – A European Pilot Mining Test in the Atlantic on Tools, Facilities, Operations and Concepts

Objectives of the commitment

Blue Atlantis will establish the world’s only deep-sea mining test facility, covering RTD, mining tests, standards development and market access support. The consortium has 45 partners from 8 European countries along the entire value chain. Deep-sea mining has gone from a distant possibility to a likely reality within just a decade. There is a growing imperative for a better defined EU policy in this area. There are three good reasons why a deep-sea mining test in Europe would be important. First, securing raw materials for European industry, which depends on importing most strategic and critical metals, including: Co, Cu, Ga, Nb, Pt group metals, Ti, W, Zn, Au, Ag and Rare Earths. Second, Europe’s leadership in advanced deep-sea technologies will be further enhanced on a global scale. Third, new education, skills and knowledge will be offered by universities and research centers.

Description of the activities

The seafloor around the Azores Archipelago provides an ideal location as a deep-sea mining test facility in European waters. Analyses show that the Mid‐Atlantic ridge system near the Azores hosts seafloor massive sulfides (SMS) deposits. South of the Azores, between 36ºN and 40ºN, there are four known fields of hydrothermally active vents within the actual Portuguese EEZ on the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge. Furthermore, there are manganese nodules and cobalt-rich crusts to be found within the Portuguese EEZ and extended continental shelf, which may be an additional source for deep-sea minerals. Blue Atlantis partners cover the entire deep-sea mining value chain with the following unique selling propositions:
• Strategic European leadership
• Strong industry partners with comprehensive marine mineral resource expertise
• Strong innovation-orientation combining the technical, scientific, and logistic resources of major universities and marine RTD institutions.
• Strong backing of national governments
• Strong environmental credentials. Only non-active SMS-sites will be considered for the mining test
• Expertise in risk assessment and standards development
Work Packages for a large‐scale European Marine Mining Pilot Project:
1. Project management (Portuguese and German co-coordinators)
2. MetOcean studies
3. Environmental monitoring and assessment, incl. new technologies and early warning capacities during exploration, mining, and post-mining activities.
4. Exploration activities, especially of relevant non-active mining sites. Tools will include submersibles (AUV and ROV), high definition geophysical tools, thematic mapping, mineralogy and geochemistry as well as core drilling (e.g. with MeBo and Rockdrill).
5. Mining equipment development, including R&D projects and design activities related to:
• Mining tools incl. shallow water tests
• Intelligent detection supported by ROVs andAUVs
• Buffer incl. SMS storage and flexible pipe/tube
• Airlift- and/or slurry pump systems
• Riser concept incl. tailing dumping pipe (design, dimension, material)
• Energy supply
• Underwater communication
• Design and concept for surface vessel and/or floating structure
• Tailing processing unit onboard surface vessel, incl. in recirculation in greater depths
• Systems control and monitoring center
• Test on land (LAB)
6. Evaluation of the R&D preparation projects
• Main mining components and tools
• Modification and realisation of selected components and tools
• Construction
7. Mining test preparation
8. Mining support and production vessel preparation
9. Mining test operation
10. Processing concepts and technologies for marine mineral resources
11. Standards and risk assessment Deep-sea mining is dependent on new technologies and processes developed in a highly competitive world market. For this reason, the test facility will be complemented by the systematic development of standards (e.g. environmental, safety, technology, etc.) as well as a comprehensive risk assessment analysis of all aspects of deep-sea mining and technology deployment.
12. Education and Training Programmes
13. Dialogue with Stakeholders, including with:
• regulators (e.g. government agencies) tasked with such issues environmental, safety and other agencies)
• policy makers from environmental, trade and resources areas
• industry regarding the strategic interests of European industry), and
• NGOs and societal groups on issues related to public perception and acceptance.
A specific Working Group will be set-up to liaise with local governments in Portugal and the EU Institutions.

Description of the expected impacts

Blue Atlantis will cement Europe’s expertise for the whole deep-sea mining added value chain. With respect to the existing SMS-deposits in the EEZ of the Azores, the aim is to create marine mining test structures which are strongly linked to the proposed work packages. In addition to the mining test structure, the consortium proposes the preparation and implementation of a conceptual study for large scale facilities for deep-sea mining.
In cooperation with industry, research and government communities, all relevant aspects of the value chain should be addressed in a pilot mining operation. Blue Atlantis will cover inter alia the following key areas:
• geophysical exploration using new or modified tools and technologies
• Development of robotic tools for mineral exploration
• geological, mineralogical and geochemical evaluation, site selection and resource definition by drilling
• environmental and biological characterisation, baseline collection and monitoring
• development and testing of seafloor mining tools, lift and riser system
• development and testing of robotic tools to support monitoring, infrastructure maintenance and sustainable mining operations
• design studies of mining support and production vessel (MSV)
• „at sea“ pretreatment of ore, transportation issues, port facilities
• financing, economic models, and market impact
• preparation of UNCLOS implementation under national legislation
• legal requirements and fiscal impact
• public outreach and public awareness/ acceptance

Coordinating organisation & role

Name of the coordinating organisation: Working Group Marine Mineral Resources; German Association for Marine Technology Country: GermanyEntity profile: OtherRole within the commitment:

The coordinators will integrate and harmonise the work package involvement of the different partners to minimize duplication of work and efforts for the future Proposal. Additionally to the general coordination tasks (finances, mile stones and deliverables, controlling, reporting, etc.) the coordinators will be partly involved in WPs 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 13). The coordinators cover the entire spectrum of the skills needed to coordinate such a comprehensive project.

Other partners

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V.

Name of the organisation: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Fraunhofer will lead the CFRP and GFRP recycling research.
Fraunhofer will perform corrosion tests on the developed materials.
Fraunhofer will work with CIDAUT on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project. Fraunhofer is the Quality Manager of the Consortium and will oversee deliverables and general reporting are produced with the best possible quality following agreed review standards.

Fundacion Cidaut

Name of the organisation: Fundacion Cidaut Country: Spain Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: CIDAUT will lead the research activities on materials recycling and compounding, implementing lab scale demonstrators of each process at its premises and, later, supporting end-users upscale the processes.
CIDAUT will perform mechanical tests, microstructural analyses, injection moulding capability studies on the developed materails, and will work with Fraunhofer on the implementation, validation and refinement of LCCA tools for the project.

RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV)

Name of the organisation: RWTH Aachen University (Institute of plastic processing (IKV) Country: Germany Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: RWTH will implement the novel 3D Generative Preforming process (3D Fibre Spraying) that enables to create high-value long fibre-reinforced 3D preforms for thermoplastic and thermoset composites at low process costs (different kinds of yarn as a raw material, low tooling costs due to low cavity pressures). This cost effective technology allows to align the sprayed fibres in order to produce high-performance, engineered anisotropic products.

Universita' di Cagliari

Name of the organisation: Universita' di Cagliari Country: Italy Entity profile:
Role within the commitment: University of Cagliari is one of the leading European organization in the resin design and coupling with thermoplastic and thermose materials. University of Cagliari will support in the definition of the composite materials, both from CFRP/GFRP, ABS and Rare Earth composite material.


Name of the organisation: Relight Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: RELIGHT will work with ITRB to provide the research partners with residues for the recycled ABS supply and the REE recovery processes, including their HydroWEEE process as part of the processes to be studied and analyzed.

Piaggio Aerospace

Name of the organisation: Piaggio Aerospace Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - large company
Role within the commitment: Piaggio Aerospace is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Piaggio will assist in the compounds selection, provide Fraunhofer with specific corrosion requirements on business jet size aircraft, and will assess that the developed materials performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

Blackshape Aircrafts

Name of the organisation: Blackshape Aircrafts Country: Italy Entity profile: Private sector - SME
Role within the commitment: Blackshape Aircrafts is one of the project End Users (Aeronautics Industry): as such it will provide requirements and further applications that could be developed with the Consortium Materials. Blackshape will support to fulfill the requirements of the aeronautics industry on ultra light jet, light jet and trainer for Syllabus, and will assess that the developed alloys performance fits the selected applications desired improvements.

KU Leuven

Name of the organisation: KU Leuven Country: Belgium Entity profile: Academia
Role within the commitment: KUL will collaborate on the balance problem studies and will lead the rare earth recovery research with the solvometallurgical and ionometallurgical processes.
KUL will also contribute to the final compounding selection.
KUL is the Dissemination Manager of the project, promoting that all partners are active on the project Dissemination.


Name of the organisation: FIDAMC Country: Spain Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: FIDAMC is going to lead the Work Package on Compression Moulding with CFRP-enhanced materials. As part of the AIRBUS Group, FIDAMC will also be able to provide the input material.
FIDAMC successfully developed a 3D Printer of own design to serve the Aerospace Industry and will be supporting Smart Lab 3D Industries in its 3D printer design.


Name of the organisation: COMPOSITE INNOVATION CENTER Country: Canada Entity profile: Governmental/public body
Role within the commitment: Composite Innovation Center is one of the world leading organization in the field of Composite materials, both from carbon fiber and vegetal-based fibers.
Composite Innovation center has successfully implemented, at lab-scale, recycling processes for CFRP and GFRP.

Existing EU Contribution: Yes

Period to implement the commitment: from 01-04-2015 to 31-03-2020