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Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology

Deep-sea mining robot Minero successfully completes underwater (1,370 m) test

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  • Date : 2013-08-01

Gaining momentum for commercializtion of deep-sea manganese nodule mining technology using robots developed 
with our country’s own technology


□ The Republic of Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST), with Kang Jung-keuk as president, announced that it has successfully carried out a deep-sea path following test of Minero, a mining robot, weighing 28 tons, used to collect manganese nodules*. The test was the first of its kind ever attempted in the world. The test was carried out at a location 130 km southeast of Pohang, and 1,370 m below the surface of the ocean, between July 19 and July 26.


Manganese nodules are precious mineral resources containing manganese, nickel, copper, and other materials, and are used for basic materials in advanced industries. They are considered to be treasure troves of the deep-sea. Nickel is used in the production of chemical/oil refinery facilities, electric products, and automotive parts, and copper is used in electro electronics, vehicle engines, and construction materials.


□ The Government is engaged in the exploration of manganese nodules located on the deep-sea floor, 5,000 m below the ocean surface, of the country’s exclusive exploration area (75,000 km2) in the Clarion-Clipperton (C-C) Zone. This area is located 2,000 km southeast of Hawaii, and was obtained from the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in 2002. The Government has also made efforts to develop sea exploration technologies.


□ The deep-sea operation test included a deep-sea test, to see whether the mining robot can move following a preset path, and a deep-sea navigation and path following test, to evaluate the possibility of controlling the robot remotely from a boat on the water surface.


□ First of all, the robot showed that it can move straight and turn around, as instructed, on the soft, irregular surface of the sea floor despite the extreme conditions of the deep-sea.


□ In the deep-sea navigation and path following test, which is essential for commercial mining, it successfully followed instructions transmitted from the boat on the water surface.



□ Thus, the country has displayed its ability to carry out the mining of deep-sea manganese nodules.


 Experts said that the test provided the country with the momentum to play a leading role in the commercialization of the technology for exploration of manganese nodules.


 KIOST, which participated in the test, said that the test has made it very optimistic about the integrated mining test that will be carried out in 2015, at a depth of 2,000 m, with the objective of establishing a basis for commercial mining.


□ KIOST, jointly with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, is planning to develop the technology for commercial production by 2015, including the technology for extracting strategic metals from manganese nodules and the technology for mining at a depth of 2,000m.


        □ The country’s exclusive exploration area in the C-C Zone is estimated to contain about 560 million tons of manganese nodules that can be mined at a rate of 3 million tons a year for 100 years. The country became the 7th country in the world to obtain such a license.


 According to KIOST, the country will earn more than 2 trillion won worth of import substitution a year, upon the commercialization of the technology.



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Last Update : 2020-03-07