Shares in The Metals Company (NASDAQ: TMC) jumped on Wednesday after the company said it completed its first collection run of polymetallic nodules more than four kilometres below the surface of the Pacific ocean.
The Vancouver-based company said its production vessel, the Hidden Gem, collected an initial batch of seafloor nodules and transported it up a 4.3km-long riser system to the surface, “in what represents the first integrated system test conducted in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean since the 1970s.”
TMC said 130 crew and engineers piloted the collector vehicle, designed by partner Allseas, 147 metres in one hour on a pre-determined path and collected 14 tonnes of nodules.
Last month, TMC’s subsidiary Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI) received the go-ahead from the International Seabed Authority to start the pilot project with the aim of collecting approximately 3,600 tonnes of nodules containing nickel, cobalt and manganese before the end of the year:
“Upon completion of the trials, which require the coordination of 250 people across three vessels, the research teams will undertake post-collection surveys to compare the status of the environment before and after the test.
“The data collected, together with many terabytes of existing baseline data collected by NORI throughout 16 offshore campaigns, will form the basis of NORI’s application to the International Seabed Authority for an exploitation contract, which the company expects to submit in the second half of 2023.”
Development of technologies to collect polymetallic nodules first began in the 1970s when oil, gas and mining majors including Shell, Rio Tinto (Kennecott) and Sumitomo successfully conducted pilot test work in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, recovering over ten thousand tonnes of nodule.
The fields in the CCZ represent the largest known, undeveloped nickel resource on the planet and is estimated to contain over three times the amount of cobalt, almost two times the amount of nickel and as much manganese as all global land-based reserves, combined.
TMC stock gained 7.6% on the NASDAQ by lunchtime on Wednesday with more than one million shares exchanging hands, affording the company a market valuation of $243 million.