DEVELOPMENT OF MINING SYSTEM FOR SEAFLOOR MASSIVE SULFIDE IN JAPAN

World Mining Congress
Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has started an exploration program for Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMS) in the EEZ of Japan, and launched an investigation program for mining, processing and environmental impact on SMS development. With regard to the mining aspect, the mining system consists of three units: a mining unit on the sea floor, an ore lift-up unit to surface, and a mining support vessel unit which has an ore unloading system that unloads onto a shuttle ship. Regarding the mining unit, JOGMEC and certain Japanese mining and machinery companies developed two types of state of the art mining testing tools. Excavation tests on the actual SMS site in the Okinawa Trough, south-west of Japan, were conducted in 2012. In these tests, the functions of the testing tools, such as cutting ore, moving on the seafloor and climbing up slopes having steeper than a 25 degree gradient, were confirmed. The physical characteristics of the ore, which are key parameters for establishing a mining system, are yet to be fully understood as the exploration program has been undertaken simultaneously. Hence, those examinations have been carried out by ground cutting experiments, analysis of drilling core data, and the like. This paper describes the outline of a proposed mining system, mining testing tools and results of the on-site mining testing.
Keywords: mining; Testing; Ore; Ores; Mining systems; Japan; Systems; Developments;
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