The Metals Company Welcomes Growing Recognition from Political and Military Leaders of Deep-Sea Nodules’ Potential to Strengthen National Security and Reshore Supply Chains for the Clean Energy Transition
The Metals Company (NASDAQ: TMC) (the “Company” or “TMC”), an explorer of lower-impact battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules, commended Western political and military leaders for their growing acknowledgement of the potential for seafloor polymetallic nodules to bolster domestic critical mineral supply chains for the clean energy transition.
Seventeen high-ranking U.S. military officers including former Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair said in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, “The national security imperative of creating sufficient mineral supplies to build future EVs, energy infrastructure from turbines to transmission, and modern aerospace and defense systems must include a robust and secure supply chain within U.S. control.”
In the letter, attached to a LinkedIn post by Former Commander Kirk Lippold, the Officers wrote: “Given the known lack of domestic supply and processing of critical lithium-ion battery cathode materials including cobalt, nickel, and manganese, the U.S. should consider responsible development of polymetallic nodules found on the seafloor in U.S. territorial and international waters off the U.S. coast as a potential game-changer for U.S. critical mineral supply lines and domestic processing opportunities.”
In a letter to the U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm earlier this month, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) wrote, “New and abundant sources of supply, such as polymetallic nodules, offer a pathway to mineral security for the United States.”
Senator Murkowski added in the letter: “In addition to focusing on conventional mining strategies, in the past I have also sought to direct funding for the federal government to assess seafloor mineral resources as a potential mechanism to enhance the security and sustainability of supplies available to the United States. It is my understanding that polymetallic nodules in the Pacific Ocean’s Clarion Clipperton Zone, which sit unattached atop the seafloor, can be collected to provide enough nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese to electrify the world’s vehicle fleet several times over.”
Gerard Barron, Chairman and CEO of The Metals Company, said, “Today, China dominates nickel processing and Russia is the largest miner of Class 1 nickel, which has risen in price nearly 30% in the last two months. This doesn’t have to be a sign of what is to come for the clean energy transition. It is heartening to hear a growing international chorus of support for polymetallic nodules from political thought leaders and the military community who recognize the potential for seafloor minerals to re-shore supply chains and re-industrialize economies while reducing the social and environmental impacts of land-based mining.”
Meanwhile as part of its Vision 2030 investment plan, the French Government is investing over 300 million euros to support deep-sea exploration for polymetallic nodules. During the One Ocean Summit last week, France’s Secretary General for the Sea, Denis Robin, reaffirmed the country’s commitment and said that recent calls for a moratorium on such activities would mean maintaining a “veil of ignorance” on what happens deep below the ocean’s surface, adding: “There is nothing that justifies stopping us gathering this information.” Last October, French President Emmanuel Macron said deep-sea exploration was an essential part of understanding life in these remote regions, which could also provide “access to certain rare metals”.
France holds two seafloor minerals exploration contracts with the International Seabed Authority: a polymetallic nodule contract in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Pacific Ocean and a polymetallic sulphides contract in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. France’s commitment to invest in deep-sea exploration echoes similar investments by a number of other sovereign states. Last July, the Indian Government under President Modi allocated $600 million over the next five years for its ‘Deep Ocean Mission’, including investments to undertake the necessary resource definition work on its polymetallic nodule contract area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) and to develop an integrated nodule collection system. Investment in deep-sea exploration is also a national priority in China, which holds three polymetallic nodule contracts in the CCZ, more than any other country. Other countries that directly hold exploration contracts or sponsor private company contracts in the CCZ include the United Kingdom, Belgium, Jamaica, the Republic of Korea, and Russia, as well as TMC’s sponsoring states, the Republics of Nauru and Kiribati, and the Kingdom of Tonga.
These latest interventions follow the White House’s earlier 100-day supply chain review, published last year, which elevated battery-grade nickel to ‘critical’ status and singled out the establishment of domestic nickel refining capacity as its highest priority, given the absence of domestic production and refining. The review also noted the potential for seafloor nodules to “provide a significant future source of strategic and critical materials” like nickel and cobalt. Once uplifted from the seafloor, polymetallic nodules can be shipped anywhere in the world for processing and, as the world’s largest nickel development project — according to Mining.com — The Metals Company’s NORI-D polymetallic nodule project could help re-shore critical mineral supply chains for the clean energy transition.