Development of Deep Sea Mining Machine (Continuing)


The Polymetallic nodules containing copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese are viewed as potential resources to meet the increasing demand for these strategic metals worldwide. India has a status of Pioneer Investor and has been allotted a site in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the International Sea Bed Authority (ISA) for exploration and technology development for polymetallic nodule mining. Development of reliable Deep-sea mining system for harnessing resources from ocean will help to meet the country’s growing mineral requirements and increase the country’s self sufficiency, in the near future.

a) Objectives:

  1. Design and development of a new crawler based mining machine capable of collecting and pumping nodules from water depth up to 6000m
  2. To develop a flexible riser system for transporting nodules from the ocean floor to the mother ship/barge.
  3. To qualify the underwater mining system from ship/floating platform equipped with Dynamic Positioning (DP) system using winches, cable and handling systems at water depth up to 6000 m.
  4. Development of upgraded version of soil tester
  5. Testing for qualification of system at Central Indian Ocean Basin.

b) Participating Institutions:

National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai

c) Implementation Plans:

The development of flexible mining systems requires conveyance of nodules of 30 mm diameter (max.) through a flexible hose with an internal diameter of 90 mm at a maximum concentration of 30% by weight considering various factors pertaining to the system. However if a buffer storage is used, a centrifugal pump/ suitable pump capable of handling solids up to 75 mm will be required. The same requirement will also be there for pumping other deep-sea minerals from lower depths (about 3000 m). Such pumps have to be developed for subsea operations and the performance requirements studied. The power requirement is also higher and requires utilization of a higher voltage system.

It is proposed to carry out studies for materials and welded joints in various areas where underwater pressure, corrosion and fatigue come into play. Also , development of sub-sea control systems, and acoustic positioning and imaging systems, study of corrosion, fatigue, wear, corrosion, hydraulic fluids, underwater flow and density meters for large solid media, , underwater electrical and electronic systems – indigenization would be carried out wherever feasible..

Development of Control Systems that can facilitate long term uninterrupted operations and configuration design of systems for large scale mining operations like Floating Platform are also envisaged in this proposal

Analysis of behavior of multiple mining machines connected to a single floating station and associated design will be carried out .

Wherever required, it is proposed to work in collaboration with academic institutes, research and development organizations, industries and international organizations

Infrastructure facilities / lab requirements

An underwater mining vehicle test facility having a bentonite bed to simulate the deep ocean floor, with large handling facilities are required for conducting developmental studies on the underwater mining vehicle. The vehicle test basin should have a depth of more than 5 m and should also have an assembly and integration bay adjacent to it. A common EOT crane should be used to facilitate assembly operations of sub-sea mining machine as well as deploy the mining machine on the bentonite bed. In view of the above, a full fledged proto type Test Basin with an operable depth of 10 m and associated testing facilities is essential for testing of underwater systems

d) Deliverables:

  1. Mining System with flexible riser system for 6000m operation.
  2. Upgraded soil tester

e) Budget Requirement : 247 crores.

(Rs. In crores)

Budget Requirement
Name of the Scheme 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Total
Development of Deep Sea Mining System 93 88 36 14 16 247


Last Updated On 04/06/2015 - 17:30
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