Allseas taps Seatools for deep-sea mining equipment

Allseas has awarded subsea technology company Seatools the contract for the delivery of the complete electrical, hydraulic, and control system for its deep-sea mining nodule collector.

Credit: Allseas

The project is part of Allseas’ development program to realise advanced deep-water equipment for the gathering of polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor in a responsible way.

Driven by the green energy transition, the interest in high-grade seafloor polymetallic nodule deposits has risen in the past few years due to the depleting terrestrial deposits for metals such as copper, nickel, manganese, and cobalt.

Nevertheless, subsea mining does not take place on a commercial scale yet as current technology readiness levels fall short.

Allseas aims to close the technology gaps by developing advanced deep-water equipment to gather nodules responsibly from the ocean floor.

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A key component of the equipment under development is a tracked subsea vehicle for the collection of polymetallic nodules. The purpose of this crawler vehicle is to maneuver over the seabed, collect mineral rich nodules from the sea floor, and transport them to a surface vessel.

While Allseas will develop the core nodule collection technology and surrounding mechanical assembly in-house, it has contracted Seatools to bring its nodule collector alive by the delivery of the entire hydraulic, electronic, and control system.

More specifically, Seatools will perform the entire engineering trajectory, spanning design, building, testing and delivering of the subsea crawler’s infrastructure and related vessel equipment required to operate the vehicle at full ocean depth.

Allseas drillship for future deep-sea mining
Allseas has acquired the former 228 meters long ultra-deepwater drillship Vitoria 10000 for conversion to a polymetallic nodule collection vessel.

Jan Frumau, Seatools’ managing director, says:

“This is a truly pioneering project in the deep-sea mining sphere at which there is a lot at stake for our client and perhaps even for this emerging industry as a whole.

“This contract underpins our belief that we are positioned as the preferred partner for industrial quality infrastructure solutions for all types of subsea equipment.”

For the project, Seatools will draw upon its track record and knowledge with regards to the design and manufacturing of deep-water, heavy-duty subsea machinery such as subsea rock installation ROVs.

Furthermore, Seatools will also draw upon recent pilot subsea mining projects through which a unique technology toolbox has been developed. Nevertheless, the project demands new technology elements as well. Advanced technology development and qualification processes and methods such as hardware in the loop (HIL) simulations will bring new technology elements to appropriate maturity and quality levels before they will be applied in the field.