PATANIA II Technical Update Following Fifth Expedition
March 21, 2019
During functionality testing ahead of the proposed launch of Patania II— GSR’s purpose-built prototype nodule collector —damage was caused to a critical cable, resulting in power failure. The cable, known as an umbilical, is 5 kilometers in length and contains specialised wiring to power, control and communicate with Patania II from a surface support vessel, as well as to hold Patania II’s 25-tonne weight. GSR is conducting a thorough investigation to assess the cause and extent of the damage to the umbilical. However, as a result of the damage and with safety as our first priority, regrettably GSR has concluded that it will need to postpone the launch of Patania II for a few months. The launch of Patania II overlaps with a four-year independent transnational scientific research project initiated through JPI Oceans (2018-2022), to which GSR remains fully committed. Both teams are working together to minimize the impact of the delay on the overall goal of studying the environmental aspects of the seafloor minerals industry for the benefit of all potential users of such scientific information. As scheduled in the JPIO project, research is currently being conducted to gather adequate environmental baseline information from both the Belgian (GSR) and German (BGR) contract areas within the Clarion Clipperton Zone, where the Patania II launch will take place. After the launch, both areas will also be revisited to study potential effects on the deep-sea ecosystems and their environments. In line with its commitment to an open, transparent, and scientifically rigorous testing program, GSR will—in collaboration with JPIO II—invite independent scientists to join the mission and monitor its activities when Patania II launches in due course. GSR remains focused on the successful collection of polymetallic nodules from the seafloor and believes that responsible nodule collection can help meet future metal demand and provide an environmentally and socially responsible alternative to the development of land-based mineral resources. GSR’s commitment to this vision is unwavering. Further announcements will be made once a new launch schedule for Patania II is confirmed.