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A Technical and Economic Evaluation of Cobalt-rich Manganese Crusts
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  • Journal title : Ocean and Polar Research
  • Volume 31, Issue 2,  2009, pp.167-176
  • Publisher : Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology
  • DOI : 10.4217/OPR.2009.31.2.167
 Title & Authors
A Technical and Economic Evaluation of Cobalt-rich Manganese Crusts
Park, Se-Hun; Yang, Hee-Cheol;
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Cobalt-rich manganese crusts on seamounts have received an increasing amount of attention as future resources for Co, Ni, Cu, and Mn. A dearth of detailed information regarding the relevant distribution characteristics, mining technologies, and ore processing technologies, however, has precluded potential evaluations of the technical and economic advantages of these crusts. In the past 4 years, Korea has undertaken a survey of the cobalt-rich manganese crusts in and around the Magellan Seamount and Mid-Pacific Mountains. This paper introduces the preliminary feasibility study of the distribution features and R&D results centered around the development of the cobalt-rich manganese crusts. The evaluation model was developed by modifying the model for the manganese nodules. In addition to considering the geological and geophysical differences between the manganese nodules and the cobalt-rich manganese crusts, an ore dressing subsystem was installed in the model. The mining subsystem is composed of a self-propelled collector--a pipeline with submersible hydraulic pumps for crust lifting. The smelting and chlorine leach method was selected for metallurgical processing. The production scales were established at 2,500t/y of cobalt metal. The production of three metals--cobalt, nickel, and copper--was considered in terms of metallurgical processing. The economic feasibility analyses demonstrated that the payback period was 11.4 years, the NPV was 36M$, and the IRR was 9.6% with the economic factors in the case of a cobalt price of US$ 25/lb. It was also demonstrated in this study that the payback period was 8.6 years, the NPV was 154M$, and the IRR was 14.0% in the case of a cobalt price of US$ 30/lb. This indicates that the approach under consideration appears to offer greater potential given the predicted metal prices.
Cobalt-rich manganese crust;economic evaluation model;deep-sea mining;ore dressing;metallurgical processing;
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