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French team targets marine mining

21st July 2016 - 13:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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A French consortium is working to develop new ways to explore marine resources using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), ECA Group announced on 19 July.

Called Magnetic and Electromagnetic Ore Detection (Melodi), the project is being carried out by ECA Group, Creocean, DCNS and RTSys to optimise the process of mapping major underwater areas and the magnetic detection of a specific type of mining resource.

The solution is based around ECA Group’s AUV. The AUV leads the mission, guiding the path of around ten other AUVs developed by RTSYS. The pack can map an area of 100km2 in 24 hours, collecting data required to identify the geological facies potentially rich in ore deposits. This makes it possible to proceed to the next steps and to analyse whether mining is viable and profitable, before carrying out drilling.

The project aims to assist in the strengthening of France’s marine mineral resource deposit mining industry, to reduce dependence on imports and secure its supply in metals, for which global demand is constantly growing.

François Falcou, research director at ECA Group (Toulon), said: ‘Melodi involves explorations using AUV based on the principle of hunting in packs to locate ore deposits. Equipped with innovative capabilities and embedded intelligence, AUVs can explore depths greater than 2,000m, recharge without going back up to the surface, communicate with each other and conduct programmed collaborative missions.

‘We know that massive marine mineral resource deposits exist and that they hold higher concentrations of rare and precious metals than onshore deposits. However, current exploration techniques (complex, expensive and destructive to the ecosystem) are incompatible with the exploration performed at the industrial level... Within this framework, Melodi represents a real game-changer.’

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