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Marine ferromanganese deposits: a major resource of E-tech elements

Grant number: 14/50820-7
Support type:Research Projects - Thematic Grants
Duration: June 01, 2015 - May 31, 2019
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Oceanography
Cooperation agreement: NERC, UKRI
Principal Investigator:Frederico Pereira Brandini
Grantee:Frederico Pereira Brandini
Principal investigator abroad: Bramley Murton
Institution abroad: University of Southampton, England
Home Institution: Instituto Oceanográfico (IO). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Co-Principal Investigators:Alexander Turra ; Vivian Helena Pellizari
Associated grant(s):15/16516-1 - Multiuser equipment approved in grant 14/50820-7: piston corer, magnetometer, CTD/Rosette, LADCP; auto analyzer, sediment trap, bottom ADCP, box Corer, Pinger, deep-sea camera, AP.EMU
15/13777-9 - Multiuser equipment approved in grant 14/50820-7: PANalytical Epsilos 3, AP.EMU
15/13775-6 - Multiuser equipment approved in grant 14/50820-7: Kappabridge AGICO MFK1-FA and furnace CS-4, AGM head for MicroMag lake shore (AGM), PAM1 - AGICO Anhysteretic / pulse magnetizer (PAM), AP.EMU
Associated scholarship(s):18/20733-6 - A paleomagnetic component for a proxy of water stratification and anoxia in the sedimentary archives of oceans and epicontinental seas, BP.PD
18/05114-8 - Ferromanganese crusts and phosphorites from the Rio Grande Rise, BP.DR
18/22753-4 - Analysis of bio-optical parameters of water bodies in the elevation region of Rio Grande do Sul, BP.TT
+ associated scholarships 17/02409-4 - Chemosynthesis in marine sediments at Rio Grande rise, Southwestern Atlantic Ocean, BP.IC
18/12038-6 - Terraces identification with multibeam in the Rio Grande Rise, South Atlantic west, BP.IC
16/24677-8 - Opportunities and challenges for the incorporation of the ecosystem based approach in seabed conservation: a case study on mineral exploration in the Rio Grande Rise, BP.DR
17/15026-6 - Submesoscale dynamics of the Cape Frio upwelling front and associated physical-biological processes, BP.DD
17/19907-7 - Biogeochemistry of dissolved organic matter in the SW Atlantic: characterization, quantification and reactivity (DOMAt), BP.PD
17/04821-0 - Magnetostratigraphic analysis of ferromanganese deposits, BP.DD
16/16183-5 - Chemosynthetic contribution to the carbon cycle in abyssal zones of Rio Grande Rise (Southwestern Atlantic Ocean), BP.PD
16/10091-1 - Sustainability of mining of iron-manganese deposits in the Rio Grande Rise, BP.PD - associated scholarships

Abstract

Minerals are essential for economic development, the functioning of society and maintaining our quality of life. Consumption of most raw materials has increased steadily since World War II, and demand is expected to continue to grow in response to the burgeoning global population and economic growth, especially in Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) and the other emerging economies. We are also using a greater variety of metals than ever before. New technologies such as those required for modern communication and computing and to produce clean renewable, low-carbon energy require considerable quantities of many metals. In the light of these trends there is increasing global concern over the long-term availability of secure and adequate supplies of the minerals and metals needed by society. Of particular concern are ‘critical’ raw materials (E-tech element), so called because of their growing economic importance and essential contribution to emerging ‘green’ technologies, yet which have a high risk of supply shortage. The following E-tech elements are considered to be of highest priority for research: cobalt, tellurium, selenium, neodymium, indium, gallium and the heavy rare earth elements. Some of these E-tech elements are highly concentrated in seafloor deposits (ferromanganese nodules and crusts), which constitute the most important marine metal resource of future exploration and exploitation. For example, the greatest levels of enrichment of Tellurium are found in seafloor Fe-Mn crusts encrusting some underwater mountains. Tellurium is a key component in the production of thin film solar cells, yet is prone to security of supply concerns because of projected increased demand resulting from the widespread deployment of photovoltaic technologies; low recycling rates; and its production as a by-product from cooper refining. As a result, it is vital to assess alternative sources of supply of tellurium and the other E-tech elements, the largest source of which is held as seafloor mineral deposits. Our research programme aims to improve understanding of E-tech element concentration in seafloor mineral deposits, which are considered the largest yet least explored source of E-tech elements globally. Our research will focus on two key aspects: The formation of the deposits, and reducing the impacts resulting from their exploration. Our primarily focus is on the processes controlling the concentration of the deposits and their composition at a local scale (10’s to 100’s square km). These will involve data gathering by robotic vehicles across underwater mountains and small, deep-sea basins off the coast of North Africa and Brazil. By identifying the processes that result in the highest-grade deposits, we aim to develop a predictive model for their occurrence worldwide. We will also address how to minimize the environmental impacts of mineral exploitation. Seafloor mining will have an impact on the environment. It can only be considered a viable option if it is environmentally sustainable. By gathering ecological data and experimenting with underwater clouds of dust that simulate those generated by mining activity, we will explore of extent of disturbance by seafloor mineral extraction. Metal extraction from ores is traditionally very energy consuming. To reduce the carbon footprint of metal extraction we will explore the novel use of organic solvents, microbes and nano-materials. An important outcome of the work will be to engage with the wider community of stakeholders and policy makers on the minimizing the impacts of seafloor mineral extraction at national and international levels. This engagement will help inform policy of the governance and management of seafloor mineral exploitation. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP about the research grant
Rio Grande Rise may have been a volcanic island 
Deep-sea mineral crusts, a hidden treasure to be explored by science 

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
JOVANE, LUIGI; HEIN, JAMES R.; YEO, ISOBEL A.; BENITES, MARIANA; BERGO, NATASCHA M.; CORREA, PAULO V. F.; COUTO, DANIEL M.; GUIMARAES, AYRTON D.; HOWARTH, SARAH A.; MIGUEL, HENRIQUE R.; MIZELL, KIRA L.; MOURA, DENISE S.; NETO, FRANCISCO L. VICENTINI; POMPEU, MAYZA; RODRIGUES, IANCO M. M.; SANTANA, FREDERICO R.; SERRAO, PEDRO F.; SILVA, TOMAS E.; TURA, PEDRO M.; VISCARRA, CAROLINA L.; CHUQUI, MATEUS G.; PELLIZARI, VIVIAN H.; SIGNORI, CAMILA N.; DA SILVEIRA, ILSON C. A.; SUMIDA, PAULO Y. G.; MURTON, BRAMLEY J.; BRANDINI, FREDERICO P. Multidisciplinary Scientific Cruise to the Rio Grande Rise. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, v. 6, MAY 24 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.
MONTSERRAT, FRANCESC; GUILHON, MAILA; FERRAZ CORREA, PAULO VINICIUS; BERGO, NATASCHA MENEZES; SIGNORI, CAMILA NEGRAO; TURA, PEDRO MARONE; MALY, MASCIMILIANO DE LOS SANTOS; MOURA, DENISE; JOVANE, LUIGI; PELLIZARI, VIVIAN; GOMES SUMIDA, PAULO YUKIO; BRANDINI, FREDERICO PEREIRA; TURRA, ALEXANDER. Deep-sea mining on the Rio Grande Rise (Southwestern Atlantic): A review on environmental baseline, ecosystem services and potential impacts. DEEP-SEA RESEARCH PART I-OCEANOGRAPHIC RESEARCH PAPERS, v. 145, p. 31-58, MAR 2019. Web of Science Citations: 1.
BENITES, MARIANA; MILLO, CHRISTIAN; HEIN, JAMES; NATH, BEJUGAM NAGENDER; MURTON, BRAMLEY; GALANTE, DOUGLAS; JOVANE, LUIGI. Integrated Geochemical and Morphological Data Provide Insights into the Genesis of Ferromanganese Nodules. MINERALS, v. 8, n. 11 NOV 2018. Web of Science Citations: 1.

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