Special Issue "Marine Minerals of the Deep Sea: Mineralogy, Crystallography and Their Use for Tailored Processing and Metal Extraction"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Mineral Processing and Metallurgy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Carsten Rühlemann

Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: deep-sea environment; manganese nodule exploration; marine policy
Guest Editor
Dr. Thomas Kuhn

Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: geochemistry, mineralogy and economy of deep sea deposits; methods of metal extraction

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Interests in deep-sea mining of mineral deposits, such as polymetallic manganese nodules, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, and seafloor massive sulphides, to secure mankind’s future demand for raw materials have increased steadily during the last decade, fueled by rapid advancements in the establishment of international legislation and mining technologies. This surge of interest has concurrently boosted the need for developing effective methods of extraction of both main and trace metals. However, to develop tailored extraction methods detailed knowledge of the crystallography and the structural position of the metals of interest are necessary. This Special Issue welcomes papers that focus on all aspects of mineralogy, crystallography and extraction methods of the various deep-sea mineral deposits.

Dr. Carsten Rühlemann
Dr. Thomas Kuhn
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • Marine mineral deposits
  • Manganese nodules
  • Ferromanganese crusts
  • Seafloor massive sulfides
  • Marine phosphorites
  • Ferromanganese oxides
  • Processing and metallurgy of marine minerals

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
“Zero-Waste”: A Sustainable Approach on Pyrometallurgical Processing of Manganese Nodule Slags
Minerals 2018, 8(12), 544; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8120544
Received: 19 September 2018 / Revised: 16 November 2018 / Accepted: 17 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
A continuously growing demand for valuable non-ferrous metals and therefore an increase in their prices at the metal exchanges makes it necessary and profitable to investigate alternative metal resources. Polymetallic deep-sea nodules contain cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and nickel, and are highly abundant [...] Read more.
A continuously growing demand for valuable non-ferrous metals and therefore an increase in their prices at the metal exchanges makes it necessary and profitable to investigate alternative metal resources. Polymetallic deep-sea nodules contain cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and nickel, and are highly abundant on the sea floor. Developing a metallurgical process to recover the metal content from manganese nodules can close the predicted supply gap of critical metals like cobalt. This paper investigated a potential extraction process for valuable metals from manganese nodules supplied by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. The samples originated from the German license area of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. Due to a low concentration of valuable metals in nodules, a pyrometallurgical enrichment step was carried out to separate cobalt, copper, molybdenum and nickel in a metallic phase. The manganese was discarded in the slag and recovered in a second smelting step as ferromanganese. To aid the experiments, FactSageTM was used for thermodynamic modeling of the smelting steps. To increase metal yields and to alter the composition of the metal alloys, different fluxes were investigated. The final slag after two reduction steps were heavy-metal free and a utilization as a mineral product was desired to ensure a zero-waste process. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Thermal Pre-Treatment of Polymetallic Nodules to Create Metal (Ni, Cu, Co)-Rich Individual Particles for Further Processing
Minerals 2018, 8(11), 523; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8110523
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 23 October 2018 / Accepted: 25 October 2018 / Published: 11 November 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (5229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Polymetallic nodules are a potential source of industrially demanded metals such as Ni, Co, Cu, and Mo (up to 3 wt %). Even if there is no deep-sea mining of manganese nodules today, a forecasted gap between metal demand and supply as well [...] Read more.
Polymetallic nodules are a potential source of industrially demanded metals such as Ni, Co, Cu, and Mo (up to 3 wt %). Even if there is no deep-sea mining of manganese nodules today, a forecasted gap between metal demand and supply as well as continuously high metal prices may make seabed mining economically viable in the future. Up to now, a well-established industrial-scale extraction method for manganese nodules has been missing. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore how economically interesting metals can be extracted from the nodules in a cost- and energy-efficient way. Polymetallic nodules have a heterogeneous chemical and structural composition without individual metal-rich particles. The economically interesting metals are distributed between different mineral phases (Mn-Fe-(oxy)hydroxides) as well as different growth structures that are intergrown with each other on a nm‒µm scale. Because of that a typical ore processing with the beneficiation of valuable particles is not feasible. The process presented here starts with a pyro-metallurgical pre-treatment of the polymetallic nodules, with the aim of creating artificial metal-rich (Ni, Cu, Co, Mo) particles with enrichment factors up to 10 compared to the original average metal contents. Afterwards, these particles should be beneficiated by conventional mineral processing steps to create a concentrate while reducing the mass stream in the process. The resulting metal particles can be further treated in conventional hydrometallurgical and/or pyro-metallurgical processes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Microwave and Ultrasound Effect on Ammoniacal Leaching of Deep-Sea Nodules
Minerals 2018, 8(8), 351; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8080351
Received: 19 July 2018 / Revised: 6 August 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
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Abstract
The influence of ultrasound and microwaves on extraction of copper, nickel, and cobalt from manganese deep-sea nodules by reductive ammoniacal leaching in the presence of ammonium thiosulfate as a reducing agent was studied. The ultrasonic ammoniacal leaching provides higher metals extraction, while the [...] Read more.
The influence of ultrasound and microwaves on extraction of copper, nickel, and cobalt from manganese deep-sea nodules by reductive ammoniacal leaching in the presence of ammonium thiosulfate as a reducing agent was studied. The ultrasonic ammoniacal leaching provides higher metals extraction, while the effect of microwaves on the metals extraction under the studied leaching conditions is insignificant. In general, increasing leaching temperature increases significantly extraction of the metals of interest. At high temperatures, extraction efficiencies of copper, nickel, and cobalt decrease over longer leaching duration as a result of decomposition of the metals amino-complexes and reverse precipitation of metals. However, during the ultrasonic leaching at a temperature of 85 °C, the extraction of nickel remains almost unchanged over longer leaching durations and does not follow the decreasing course, observed in the extraction of copper and cobalt. The finding suggests that nickel can be selectively extracted from the nodules by the ultrasonic leaching. The maximal extraction efficiency of copper, nickel, and cobalt was 83%, 71%, and 32%, respectively, when the reductive ultrasonic ammoniacal leaching was carried out at 85 °C for 90 min. In the presence of microwaves, the maximal extraction efficiency of copper, nickel, and cobalt was 67%, 48%, and 8%, respectively, when the reductive ultrasonic ammoniacal leaching was carried out at the output power of 60 W for 210 min. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Galvanic Leaching of Seafloor Massive Sulphides Using MnO2 in H2SO4-NaCl Media
Minerals 2018, 8(6), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/min8060235
Received: 6 May 2018 / Revised: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 26 May 2018 / Published: 30 May 2018
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Abstract
This paper reports the leaching of seafloor massive sulphides (SMS) from the Loki’s Castle area at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge in sulphuric acid with manganese dioxide and sodium chloride. The results presented are of various leaching experiments conducted under different conditions in order [...] Read more.
This paper reports the leaching of seafloor massive sulphides (SMS) from the Loki’s Castle area at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge in sulphuric acid with manganese dioxide and sodium chloride. The results presented are of various leaching experiments conducted under different conditions in order to optimise the dissolution of copper and silver. It was shown that the main copper bearing minerals in the SMS were chalcopyrite and isocubanite, while silver could occur as an admixture in the crystallographic lattice of sulphides or as disseminated micro inclusions. Based on the results, the leaching mechanism was discussed and elucidated. It was shown that the dissolution of the SMS was mainly due to galvanic interactions between the primary marine minerals of SMS and manganese dioxide. Addition of sodium chloride promoted the extraction mechanism. Full article
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