Keppel Corporation Ltd. announced the formation of Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte. Ltd. (OMS), which intends to explore for polymetallic nodules several kilometres beneath the ocean's surface.
Polymetallic nodules contain copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, as well as rare earth minerals, and have the potential of supplying these key metals to meet growing global demand in applications as diverse as construction, aerospace and alternative energy.
OMS has applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for its first seabed exploration licence which will be considered by the ISA in July.
OMS is a Singapore-incorporated company majority owned by Keppel Corporation, with UK Seabed Resources Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based Lockheed Martin UK Holdings Ltd and Singapore-based private investment company Lion City Capital Partners Pte. Ltd. as minority shareholders.
Seabed mineral harvesting beyond nations' territorial waters is administered by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
While harvesting polymetallic nodules from the ocean floor at depths of several kilometers has previously been considered uneconomic, the development of new technologies for the offshore oil industry and aerospace industry over the past decade has changed this dynamic.
Nodules can be brought to the surface using a combination of remotely operated or autonomous underwater vehicles, pumps and riser pipes.