Small-scale commercial production in the NORI contract area (3 MTPA) expected
Prefeasibility study, feasibility study, and construction of Project 1 expected
Expected to submit application for NORI-D exploitation contract
Public submissions of extensive environmental data by NORI expected
TMC enters MOU with leading nickel processor PAMCO
TMC engages Bechtel to support NORI’s commercial contract application
Trials of the integrated pilot nodule collection system planned to take place in the Atlantic Ocean to test the functionality of the system
Test of integrated pilot nodule collection system in the NORI-D area planned
Onshore processing pilot refining program expected to begin
ESIA for NORI-D production expected to be completed
Environmental impact statement (EIS) collection pilot in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) planned
Updated 43-101 resource statement published for NORI
Environmental Expedition 5B commences development of an environmental baseline of the Pelagic Zone
DeepGreen announces business combination agreement with the Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corporation (SOAC) to become The Metals Company
Providing the capital required to get through a feasibility study and into potential revenue as early as 2024—when many analysts anticipate nickel and copper shortages from current sources—and representing a pro forma equity value of $2.9 billion for the combined company, the business combination included $330 million in private investment in public equity, or PIPE, at $10 (USD) a share. The strategic and institutional investors forming this international consortium include Allseas, Maersk Supply Service, and Glencore, among others.
Environmental Expedition 5D continues research on biodiversity, deep-sea food chains, ecosystem function, geochemistry, and nutrient cycles within the NORI-D contract area of the CCZ
Andy Jones appointed Chief Technology Officer
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and The Metals Company announce collaboration to design a new generation of offshore and onshore assets to produce critical electric vehicle battery metals from polymetallic nodules
The Metals Company challenged the architect Bjarke Ingels and his internationally renowned firm, BIG—well known for creating a ski slope on a waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen—to bring innovative, whole-systems design to the industrial components needed to supply metals from polymetallic nodules, remaking conventional metal production for the 21st century. In addition to a first-generation collector vehicle, BIG is designing other radical, low-impact solutions: a surface production vessel, a 216-meter-long ship that runs on carbon-neutral electrofuels, with a sunken deck covered with photovoltaic solar panels; shuttle carriers, whose X-bow design will deliver hyper-efficient, hydrodynamic ships; and a portside processing plant, built to become a performative and social campus in a regenerative landscape.
The Metals Company joins European Battery Alliance and European Raw Materials Alliance
Craig Shesky is appointed Chief Financial Officer
The Metals Company nominates six directors to its board: Andrew Hall, Sheila Khama, Gina Stryker, Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua, Andrei Karkar, Christian Madsbjerg, and Scott Leonard
The pyrometallurgical phase of The Metals Company’s pilot onshore processing plant program is completed, smelting nodules into an intermediate alloy of nickel, copper, and cobalt.
DeepGreen’s securityholders approve a business combination transaction with SOAC, forming The Metals Company
Environmental Expedition 4E, part of the offshore ESIA, is conducted to recalibrate and redeploy three moorings in the CCZ, provide insights into the physical characteristics of the water column, and inform the development of a model that will predict the behavior of sediment plumes
Pilot processing program completed successfully.
Erica Ocampo and Arthur Chen are appointed as Chief Sustainability Officer and Chief Accounting Officer respectively.
The Metals Company begins trading on NASDAQ under the ticker TMC.
Environmental Expedition 5C, part of the offshore ESIA, is conducted, continuing our research of the pelagic zone, and characterising the biological communities, organic flux and food web structure from the surface to the benthic boundary layer, just above the abyssal seafloor. The campaign also determines the trace metal, nutrient, and chemistry of the overlying water column of the NORI-D contract area in the CCZ.
TMC subsidiary, TOML, signs an updated Sponsorship Agreement with the Kingdom of Tonga.
Environmental Expedition 5E to be conducted, continuing our research on deep-sea biodiversity using ROV technology to image and sample gelatinous taxa from the surface to the benthic boundary layer, just above the abyssal seafloor. The ROV will also conduct image surveys and sample key taxa from the sediments and nodules within the NORI-D contract area of the CCZ. Researchers will also deploy seafloor landers to continue investigations of ecosystem function.
Resource Expedition 4B studies a bulk sample of nodules for composition and quality for pilot processing plant program
Campaign 4C studies nodule bulk sampling and evaluating seafloor geotechnical qualities
DeepGreen holds a global stakeholder meeting to formalize the scope of its deep-sea science program and align offshore ESIA objectives.
TMC partner Allseas acquires Hidden Gem, a deepwater drillship for conversion into a production vessel for pilot and future production
DeepGreen acquires TOML – Tonga Offshore Mining Limited
First comprehensive study on lifecycle ESG impacts of metal production from nodules versus land ores published
Lead researchers Daina Paulikas (University of Delaware) and Dr. Steven Katona (Ocean Health Index, Conservation International) found that sourcing battery metals from polymetallic nodules, rather than from terrestrial mines, would significantly reduce impacts with regard to climate change, nonliving resources, biodiversity and biomass, and measures of social and economic wellbeing.
Environmental Expedition 4D conducted for The Metals Company’s environmental baseline, which recovered and re-deployed oceanographic moorings measuring various meteorological and oceanographic data, and characterised the oceanographic layers in the NORI-D contract area of the CCZ.
DeepGreen announces the scope of its deep-sea science program and more than $75 million in investment
Part of The Metals Company’s environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), the company’s research program includes dozens of discrete studies. The data collected will enable informed decision making and regulatory development. The multi-year integrated program will characterize the marine environment and species from the seafloor of the abyssal plain up through the water column to the surface of the ocean, studying everything from microbes to whales. All output and data generated will be shared with the international community and samples collected are sent to labs around the world for analysis. This collaborative effort will advance the wider fields of ocean science, medicine, and technology.
First peer-reviewed study on lifecycle climate change impacts of metal production from nodules vs land ores published
Providing a comparative life-cycle assessment of electric-vehicle battery metal sources, this research paper quantifies the direct and indirect emissions and disruptions to carbon sequestration by the mining, processing, and refining of battery metals. Researchers Daina Paulikas (University of Delaware), Dr. Steven Katona (Ocean Health Index, Conservation International), Erika Ilves (The Metals Company), and Saleem H. Ali (University of Delaware) found that producing battery metals from nodules can reduce active human emissions of CO2 by 70-75%, stored carbon at risk by 94%, and disruption of carbon sequestration by 88%. Their analysis also found that polymetallic nodules can deliver metals for one billion EV batteries with up to 11.6 gigatons less CO2.
Campaign 5A conducted, investigating the benthic environment and marking the first campaign for The Metals Company’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), which investigated the benthic biodiversity, deep-sea food chains, ecosystem function, geochemistry and nutrient cycles on the seafloor of the NORI-D contract area.
Offshore collection sub-system testing program by Allseas conducted at its Delft, Netherlands research facility, including for a collector prototype and associated vehicle tracks, as well as a riser system.
Allseas becomes a strategic partner and investor
Campaign 3 conducts bathymetric mapping, geological and environmental sampling of the NORI-D contract area in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific, between Hawaii and Mexico.
Canadian 43-101 compliant resource statement published for NORI
Environmental Expedition 4A deploys three oceanographic moorings to collect continuous meteorological and oceanographic data. Hydrographic and current profiling conducted with seawater samples collected at various depths to characterise ocean layers within NORI-D contract area
New zero-waste flowsheet (pyromet processing and hydromet refining) designed in partnership with Hatch
First metal products derived from nodules using pyromet processing flowsheet in a lab setting
Campaign 6B conducts box-core sampling of nodules and seafloor sediments for geochemical and geotechnical investigation, and to determine composition and quality of nodules within the NORI-D contract area
Improved nodule collector and riser system design by Allseas
Dr. Gregory Stone joins as Chief Ocean Scientist and Board Director
One of the world’s foremost ocean scientists, with extensive international policy and business experience, Dr. Stone has served as the chief ocean scientist at Conservation International, a senior science advisor to the U.N. Special Envoy for Oceans, the oceans chair for the World Economic Forum, and a research scientist for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Formalization of DeepGreen Science Advisory Board, comprising experts including Dr. Steven Katona (Ocean Health Index, Conservation International), Larry Madin (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Bruce Robison (MBARI), Dr. Saleem Ali (University of Delaware), Dr. David Gwyther, and Bart Sayle.
Erika Ilves joins as Chief Strategy Officer
Maersk Supply Service becomes a strategic partner and investor
Gerard Barron joins as Chairman and CEO
Barron is a seasoned entrepreneur with a track record of building global companies in battery technology, media, and future-oriented resource development, both as a chief executive and as a strategic investor. On a mission to help wean the planet away from fossil fuels and transition to a circular-resource economy, Barron got involved in DeepGreen in 2011, during the company’s early strategic development and financing, and became its Chairman and CEO in 2017.
Canadian 43-101 compliant resource statement published for TOML
International Seabed Authority (ISA) grants polymetallic nodule exploration contract to MARAWA, sponsored by the government of Kiribati. DeepGreen and MARAWA sign an exclusive commercial contract.
Initial polymetallic nodule collection system designed with DRT
Resource Expedition 1 and 2 explore the CCZ for polymetallic nodules and generate bathymetric survey data within NORI Areas A-D. A total of 4,700 kilograms (10,360 pounds) of nodules were collected.
Glencore becomes an investor and signs offtake agreement for 50% of future production of nickel and copper from NORI contract area.
Advisory opinion handed down by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on Responsibilities and Obligations of Sponsoring States
DeepGreen Metals is founded
ISA grants polymetallic nodule exploration contracts to NORI, sponsored by the government of Nauru, and to TOML, sponsored by the Kingdom of Tonga
Speech by Nii Allotey Odunton, ISA Secretary General, to U.N. General Assembly on the occasion of the first exploration contracts granted to private companies sponsored by developing states
“The only realistic option for most developing states… is to form partnerships with commercial interests that have access to the financial capital and technology that are necessary to conduct deep-sea exploration. This is exactly what has happened in the case of Nauru and Tonga. This could not have happened, however, unless the private sector had sufficient confidence in the regulatory system that has been developed by the [ISA] over the past fifteen years to make such an investment in the first place.” —Nii Allotey Odunton, ISA Secretary General
ITLOS Seabed Disputes Chamber (SDC) Hearing on Responsibilities and Obligations of Sponsoring States takes place
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1994 Implementation Agreement signed and the ISA is established.
The UNCLOS ensures that the development of seabed mineral resources beyond national jurisdiction will benefit developing states, and not just wealthy countries, and reaffirms the seafloor as “the common heritage of mankind.” This document officially formed the ISA, an autonomous international organization headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, with the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep-seafloor related activities. As of 2020, the ISA has 168 member states and the European Union.
Oceanographer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau uses a delay in the signing of the draft treaty at the U.N.’s Law of the Sea conference to rework the regulatory framework that exists today and to educate the public
“What we are trying to do, but we have very little hope to change through governments, is to use the delay in signing the treaty to slightly modify the concept of exclusive economic zones into zones of responsibility. But in order to do that we would have to create a world ocean authority. Not only for the open ocean, but also for the continental shelves. This world ocean authority could set global rules of management of the ocean accepted by every nation. And then every coastal nation would be responsible to implement these rules in the so-called economic zones. That’s a dream that we’re trying.” —Jacques Cousteau
Cousteau also advocates for the development of polymetallic nodules as a resource.
“I see nothing wrong about dredging nodules from the bottom of the ocean. But it is not economical at the moment. It is only justified for strategic reasons in the US and in France and Japan — three countries that have already invested a lot in this field — because they understand that some of the minerals are in short supply.” —Jacques Cousteau
Various multinational companies and publicly sponsored groups take significant interest in the potential uses of polymetallic nodules.
Investing heavily in finding deposits and in mining and processing research and development, two groups collect several hundred tons of polymetallic nodules from the abyssal plain of the eastern equatorial Pacific and extract nickel, copper, and cobalt. The missions result in a number of technological developments for deep-sea exploration, but due to land-based nickel supplies, the cost of commercialization and no regulatory framework, no large-scale nodule collection continues.
The H.M.S. Challenger expedition takes place, funded by the Royal Society of London. This scientific program led to the foundation of oceanography and a number of important discoveries, and recovered hundreds of manganese nodules from the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans.