The Metals Company Contracts CSIRO-led Consortium to Pioneer Ecosystem-Based Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan for Deep-Sea Nodule Collection
The Metals Company (Nasdaq: TMC) (the “Company” or “TMC”) announced that its Australian subsidiary, The Metals Company Australia Pty Ltd., has entered into a research funding agreement with a consortium of institutions led by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to create a framework for the development of an ecosystem-based management and monitoring plan (EMMP) for its proposed deep-sea polymetallic nodule collection operations in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Pacific Ocean.
The CSIRO-led consortium, which includes global leaders in the development and application of effective EMMPs in a diversity of marine areas, will leverage TMC’s extensive environmental baseline data — acquired in the Company’s NORI project area in the CCZ — to help develop appropriate indicators and tolerance limits to create safe parameters for collecting seafloor nodules. The work will form the scientific foundation of TMC’s future Adaptive Management System (AMS), a state-of-the-art predictive system that will use environmental and operational data to enable the Company to mitigate operational impacts in the deep-sea environment as much as possible. A core component of this system will be the Company’s Digital Twin, which is expected to provide robust scenario testing of seafloor mine plans, monitoring of nodule collection operations and a dynamic dashboard for review by stakeholders.
Gerard Barron, Chairman and CEO of The Metals Company, said: “Last year our subsidiary, NORI, completed environmental baseline studies in partnership with leading marine research institutions. We’ve now got one of the world’s most extensive deep-sea datasets to hand over to the CSIRO-led consortium, experts with the practical experience we need to develop a scientifically robust framework for a marine ecosystem-based management program for NORI-D. I’m thrilled that these trusted and independent institutions have agreed to undertake this research, setting a high bar for future work in this industry.”
The Metals Company has invested significant resources in its deep-sea environmental baseline program, and in November 2021 the Company entered into an agreement with Kongsberg Digital to develop a Digital Twin. As TMC prepares for pilot nodule collector system trials in the CCZ later this year, the CSIRO-led research project will propel the development of a rigorous management plan focussed on the cumulative impacts of collecting nodules at a regional scale within the CCZ to enable TMC to operate within safe ecological limits. The Company expects to employ the science-based framework developed by the CSIRO-led consortium in the Adaptive Management System — which will also draw on expert opinion and machine learning to improve operational efficiencies and reduce the uncertainty of environmental impacts over time — ahead of planned commercial operations expected to commence in 2024.