Osbit supports progression of seabed project for electric vehicle battery production

Plans have been unveiled for a significant research and development project to responsibly recover minerals from the seabed for use in Electric Vehicle batteries, which could be the catalyst for a multi-billion-pound industry and thousands of jobs in the local region.

Announced at an event held at Port of Blyth, which was attended by leading North East politicians and industry specialists, Osbit helped share plans for a large-scale novel technology system that will collect the minerals from the seabed in the Pacific Ocean, with minimised environmental impact.

This marks a significant step towards establishing an industry that could sustain more than 2,500 highly skilled jobs in the region as part of a £1billion-per-year high technology industry.

This significant R&D project follows the successful delivery of a first phase trial using a small-scale Seabed Mineral Collector supplied by Osbit, which collected more than 75 tonnes of polymetallic nodules.

The next stage of the project would be to produce a 50 percent scale harvesting system, which, once fabricated, would be trialled in the Pacific Ocean in 2022.

The collector incorporates an innovative method of mineral collection, which reduces the environmental impact on the seabed environment, a major concern in previous recovery methods, by minimising plumes of seabed materials that can be generated during the recovery process.

Polymetallic nodules are small rock concretions that sit on the seabed containing high concentrations of manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel.  They can be found in vast areas of the world’s seabeds in significant volumes, enough to provide battery materials to support electric vehicle fleets across the globe.

The recovery of polymetallic nodules from the seabed will mitigate many of the major concerns connected with conventional land-based mining. The nodules are comprised of effectively 100% usable materials, and since they sit atop the seabed they do not require digging, drilling or blasting to recover the critical minerals.

Research shows that minerals such as nickel, cobalt and copper can be processed from polymetallic nodules with a fraction of the environmental and social impacts compared to current terrestrial mining practices.

Brendon Hayward, Joint Managing Director at Osbit, said: “North East England has globally-recognised capabilities in the development and fabrication of cutting-edge engineering systems, and we’re very proud to be part of this vital global supply chain. This nodule collection project offers our region the chance to make a real difference in supporting energy transition in a way that has less environmental, carbon and social impact than conventional onshore mining. It is a huge opportunity to boost our local economy and provide local jobs.”