22 Dec '15, 4pm

Seabed-Mining Robots Will Dig for Gold in Hydrothermal Vents

Photo: Nautilus Minerals Like a Tank: The heavy-duty equipment for mining the ocean floor, like the partially assembled machine shown here, is built to withstand punishing conditions 1,600 meters below the waves. For decades, futurists have predicted that commercial miners would one day tap the unimaginable mineral wealth of the world’s ocean floor. Soon, that subsea gold rush could finally begin: The world’s first deep-sea mining robots are poised to rip into rich deposits of copper, gold, and silver 1,600 meters down at the bottom of the Bismarck Sea, near Papua New Guinea. The massive machines, which are to be tested sometime in 2016, are part of a high-stakes gamble for the Toronto-based mining company Nautilus Minerals . Photos: Nautilus Minerals I, Robot Miner: Three different types of remotely operated machines will be used: a “bulk cutter” [top], a “collecting mach...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/industrial-robots/seabe...

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