4.3 Technology Development-Mining

Towards development of technology for nodule mining at greater depths, a joint technology development agreement was concluded between National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) of DOD and University of Siegen (IKS), Germany during January, 1998. Under this, it is proposed to test a seabed mining system upto 500 m depth in Indian waters to demonstrate shallow bed mining technology. Pursuant to the joint technology development agreement, an existing crawler at IKS was refurbished and augmented with a cutting system, manipulator, slurry pumping system, control system & necessary underwater systems. This shallow bed mining system module, after completion of evaluation at Germany, was shipped to India for testing in the Indian Waters. Preliminary trials for launching, manoeuvering, retrieving, etc., was done at 60 m depth off Malvan Coast, near Goa. Further test to demonstrate sand mining is proposed in Indian waters off Tuticorin coast during March/April, 1999. During the tests, the performance of all the sub-systems will be evaluated besides the sand mining demonstration. Incorporating inputs from this shallow bed mining test, a joint design report of various subsystems like crawler, collector, riser, control system, launching and retrieval system, etc., required for deep sea nodule mining would be prepared. Basic engineering and specifications of a mining complex module capable of operating at 6000 m depth with a mining capacity of 25,000 tonnes of nodules per year is in progress under this joint collaboration.