Global marine mining market has witnessed several developments in deep sea mineral exploration projects and is expected to observe surge in demand owing to depleting onshore energy resources. Increasing population coupled with depleting terrestrial deposits is expected to drive exploitation of rich oceanographic mineral reserves. Currently such extractions find application in various industries including construction, automobile and electronics. Increasing disposable income coupled with rising durable goods demand such as automobiles and household equipments with high mineral or metal content is expected to positively affect the market growth. Oceanographic segment analysis has shown high dissolved solids content and sediments of insoluble minerals such as manganese nodules, sulphides & phosphorites, platinum, gold, titanium and diamonds. The revived importance of phosphorous based artificial fertilizers in boosting global food production is expected to positively affect the phosphorus nodule mining.
Surging metal demand in Asia Pacific especially in India, Australia and Vietnam is anticipated to drive the marine mining industry over the forecast period. Growing automobile manufacturing and aftermarket industry in the U.S., Germany and Japan is anticipated to surge industrial metals demand including platinum, copper and nickel. Rapidly expanding transportation infrastructure expenditure is expected to further push global base metals demand over the foreseeable future. Escalating employment of precious metals and metal nanoparticles particularly of platinum, gold, and nickel in various industrial segments including catalysts, printing inks and medical diagnostic agents is further anticipated to boost the requirement for marine mining in deep sea and ultra-deep sea reserves.
Since the conventional surface mining equipments cannot be used in the undersea operation, they initiate a new platform for collaboration of key players across different sectors of exploration, excavation and processing technologies. Recent developments in underground and hydraulic mining technology have opened up new avenues for remote operation in deep sea mines. Aforementioned trends are estimated to create lucrative opportunities for mining equipment companies to manufacture industrial equipments which can be effectively used for mineral exploration, extraction and transportation of minerals efficiently. For minimal interaction with aquatic life, use of advanced technologies such as remotely operated unmanned vehicles, seabed vacuums and SONAR is expected to minimize mineral loss and reduce the impact on marine ecosystems. Stringent government regulations regarding seabed exploration due to the environmental uncertainties it is expected to hinder industrial commercialization. Raising concerns over the enormous waste disposal from lands and polar ice melting which affects the aquatic flora and fauna are further anticipated to lead to revisions in international water regulations. R&D initiatives to simulate and develop sustainable mining models are estimated to create scope for testing and commissioning high-tech offshore mining projects.
Commercial interest in the marine mining is expected to see an increasing trend as a result of rising global demand, successful mineral exploration and improved mining technologies. Sand mining communities are already ahead of land based mines on the grounds of under-sea mineral explorations and processing technology but face protests from environmentalists and NGOs as it puts an adverse impact on the ocean life. Placer deposits and highly rich metallic accumulation near hydrothermal vents have been discovered in North Pacific & Atlantic Oceans and sea beds surrounding Australia & South East Asia. Countries such as Russia, Germany, China, India, Japan and Korea have revised their regulations and norms regarding deep sea mining & exploration. The trend of ongoing and upcoming projects in deep sea industry is expected to steer forward the capitalization of alternate source of metals and minerals. Nautilus Minerals Inc. is set to start the first of its kind project in extracting gold and copper in the offshore islands of Australia. Other players operating in the industry specialized in underwater exploration and equipment manufacturing include De Beers, Neptune Minerals, Soil Machine Dynamics, Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology and Diamond Fields.
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