The Drilldown: Belgian and Canadian groups collaborate on deep-sea mineral collector – iPolitics.ca

The Lead

A division of the Belgian-based group DEME and Canada’s DeepGreen have begun testing a nodule collector called Patania II designed to collect minerals from the ocean floor.

The groups are conducting trials to try and find an alternative to deep-sea mining as the practice is unaffordable, environmentally hazardous, and the potential subject of new UN regulations. Unlike deep-sea mining, nodules can be collected with minimal disturbance to the marine environment and contain minerals including nickel, manganese, copper, zinc, and cobalt.

DEME’s Global Sea Mineral Resources and DeepGreen are running the Patania II — named after the world’s fastest caterpillar — in part of the Clarion Clipperton Zone which spans 4.5 million square kilometres between Hawaii and Mexico.

Patania II will literally crawl along the ocean floor collecting nodules, while a third trial planned for 2023 will bring collected nodules to the surface.

Shipping giant Maersk has also gotten involved with the project and is providing vessels for DeepGreen’s research voyages in the Clarion Clipperton Zone.

While China holds the most deep-sea exploration licenses and is typically seen as leading the charge in this field, Global Sea Mineral Resources believes it’s winning the technological race given its decades of experience dredging the ocean floor and building offshore wind farms.

In Canada

To help Canada’s automotive industry find success going forward, the federal government needs to support the development of electric vehicles and fuel-efficient gas vehicles, a report produced by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives suggests.

The report, released Tuesday, suggests that while automotive companies may be attracted to Canada because of the plethora of skilled labour, that alone is not enough. “A high-skill labour strategy only works if we have cars to build,” wrote Charlotte Yates and John Holmes, adding that this means focusing on electric vehicles because that is where the market is going.

While electric vehicles currently account for less than two per cent of the market share in North America, Yates suggests the current market share isn’t what is most important. “You don’t build it for five or 10 years … yes, you look at current demand, but you also look at where the market is going,” Yates explained, pointing to GM’s recent decision to pull out of Oshawa as it shifts focus to electric vehicle research and production.

The study calls for Ottawa to create financial incentives for companies producing green vehicles as well as tax credits for small tech companies, the Toronto Star reports.

Internationally

Mining company Rio Tinto has promised record returns for its shareholders, announcing Wednesday that “annual capital returns would be $13.5 billion for 2018, including a final dividend valued at $3.1 billion and a special dividend amounting to $4 billion.”

The pledge for record returns is reinforced by 56 per cent hike in Rio Tinto’s annual net profit.

The world’s second-biggest miner by market value joins a parade of mining companies delivering value to their shareholders as they “reap the benefits of asset sales and strong balance sheets,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

On Wednesday morning, Brent Crude was at US$66.72 and West Texas Intermediate US$57.24.

Noteworthy

In Opinion

Oil tanker traffic, according to the National Energy Board’s recent report, is responsible for only one per cent of the southern resident killer whales’ lost foraging time and the Trans Mountain expansion will only add about one tanker trip per day.

The most significant contributor to the noise pollution harming British Columbia’s southern resident killer whales are passenger ferries, tug boats, deep-sea fishing vehicles, and whale-watching boats, Licia Corbella suggests in the Calgary Herald.

She elaborates that “anti-pipeline activists,” should they actually want to protect southern resident killer whales, would be better served making less of a fuss about the Trans Mountain expansion and more of a fuss about increased ferry and whale-watching traffic.

Source: https://ipolitics.ca/2019/02/27/the-drilldown-belgian-and-canadian-groups-collaborate-on-deep-sea-mineral-collector/

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