On February 1st, a European consortium launched a new Horizon 2020 project: Blue Nodules. This project addresses the challenge of creating a viable and sustainable value chain to retrieve polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor. It will develop and test new highly-automated and sustainable technologies for deep-sea mining with minimal environmental pressures.

The technical side of the project is dedicated to subsea harvesting equipment in addition to the in- situ seafloor and sea surface processing of polymetallic nodules. The operational aspect focuses on sea operations and logistics, including compliance with, and development of, rules and regulations, and the business case. The independent, dedicated environmental part will focus on environmental pressures and on an Environmental Impact Assessment. In all areas, Blue Nodules will build on the results of the European FP7 projects, MIDAS and Blue Mining and the EcoMining pilot action funded by the JPI Oceans initiative of the European science foundations.

Rodney Norman, Director at IHC Mining, which is coordinating the project, explains that Blue Nodules is significant because it allows the European consortium to expand technological development beyond the vertical transportation system of Blue Mining to the seafloor mining vehicle and other components of the system.

Kick off
On February 9th & 10th ,the coordinator of the project, IHC Mining, part of Royal IHC in The Netherlands, hosted the Blue Nodules kick-off meeting at its premises in Kinderdijk. The partners were excited to launch the project and start working together to achieve its objectives. Furthermore, stakeholder expectations were taken into account by way of a stakeholder group and an advisory board. An independent ethics advisor will safeguard the ethics standards of the project.
 
About Blue Nodules
Blue Nodules is a four-year EU-funded project that launches in February 2016 and is part of Horizon 2020’s Research and Innovation action. The project aims to develop ‘Breakthrough Solutions for the Sustainable Harvesting and Processing of Deep Sea Polymetallic Nodules’ and is granted for the call SC5-11c-2015 ‘Deep mining on continent and/or in sea-bed’.

The consortium consists of 14 leading industry and research partners from nine European countries:

Royal IHC – IHC Mining B.V.       The Netherlands
Dredging International               Belgium
Continental AG                          United Kingdom & Hungary
IHC MTI                                    The Netherlands
De Regt Marine Cables               The Netherlands
Uniresearch                              The Netherlands
Seascape Consultants Ltd.          United Kingdom
GSR                                         Belgium
Bureau Veritas                          France
NIOZ                                        The Netherlands
RWTH Aachen                           Germany
NTNU                                        Norway
Aarhus University                      Denmark
UPC                                          Spain

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