ERDEM will embrace pro-active engagement of scientists, social scientists, policy makers and industry to collaboratively develop a Framework for Sustainable Deep Sea Mining. This will comprise innovative technologies and integrated management practices outputting renewed environmental impact assessment method and updated standards and legal instruments to achieve economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable exploration and extraction of EU’s mineral resources. ERDEM promotes international cooperation in R&D on best practice sharing with Japan.
ERDEM aspires to develop a novel set of solutions for exploration, extraction and in-situ pre-processing of deep-sea ores and integrated robotic and sensor technologies to achieve lower cost and more efficient real time monitoring of environmental impact. It will assess the resilience of Deep Sea Ecosystems and of biodiversity to resource extraction activities and it will provide advanced understanding of deep sea mining associated geological processes
The vision is to link an ecosystem based approach in managing the exploitation of deep-sea resources and innovative technological monitoring capabilities with broader EU economical perspectives, targeting at enhancing EU industry competitiveness:
1. Develop and pilot a novel cost-effective, remote and immersive set of exploration and exploitation solutions allowing a tele-mining system concept.
A new class of multipurpose mining system comprising robots and tools (jet-streams, grabbers, excavators, collectors and transporters) for low-impact larger-scale mining operations will be designed, prototyped and tested, based on functional specialization associated with a systemic cooperation which will provide teaming capabilities, necessary to operate in extreme hostile environments. The aim is to support remote mining and in - situ prospecting by deploying different sensing capabilities (e.g. fusion between vision, sonar and laser – green or blue- and chemical information in underwater environment) to provide situational awareness and for the continuous real-time evaluation of the produced ores.
2. Deliver a mobile, wireless environmental impact monitoring system.
Develop, test and evaluate in real scenarios functional prototypes of integrated robotic and sensor technologies to achieve a lower cost and more efficient real time monitoring of environmental impact, via innovative adaptation of existing subsystems and by exploiting key technologies such as: wireless energy transfer; wireless communications; extended area geo-referencing; and environment sensors (acoustic, biogeochemical, and multi-parameter). Design, develop, integrate, and test solutions for extended area deep water geo-referencing of collected data required for mining environmental impact assessment.
3. Assess resilience of Deep Sea Ecosystems and of biodiversity to resource extraction activities, using new monitoring technologies. Assess the environmental impact of deep sea mineral resources mining, by studying the effects of extraction activities on the deep sea habitats. Advance the current knowledge on deep sea and sub-sea floors environments, by studying and analyzing environmental dynamics, population variability and connectivity of communities in deep sea habitats where such resources are found. Providing:
• The expansion on the knowledge of natural variability in European deep sea ecosystems.
• Extend methodological concepts developed for the management of coastal ecosystems to the deep-sea.
• Standardise methods and tools and terminologies for impact assessment, monitoring and decision support.
4. Deliver and contribute to advanced understanding of geological processes associated to the minerals’ extraction.
• Provide baseline information about the geological environment and its dynamic behaviour through time by allowing proper evaluation of pressures and vulnerabilities in a context of exploration and exploitation of its resources.
• Contribute to a better understanding of under-laying processes and their variability leading to submarine resources formation and the biogeochemical links that exist at the lithosphere-ocean interface with the deep biosphere.
• Quantify the potential sphere of interference of mining activities to evaluate primary effects and secondary effects considering different technological approaches.
• Develop and test new and advanced technologies and methods for investigating potential geological impacts.
• Develop protocols for the quantification of geological impacts.
5. Develop a Holistic Governance Framework for Ocean Resources Sustainable Exploration and Extraction (GFORSE) including Governance, Legal instruments and Management Practices, Policy Recommendations and Standardization of tools and methods for assessing the environmental impact of such exploitation activities. GFORSE will involve stakeholders in an ecosystem approach and consolidate findings from all previous activities, in a web-based decision support system.
Promote and support diffusion of the Framework, by bringing to the commitment new stakeholders and creating a solid basis for sustainable development on global scale and practicable for a broad range of cases across European member states. Promote international cooperation in R&D on best practice sharing with Japan.
• Creation of concerted effort leading to increased European competitiveness in the raw materials and marine technology sector.
• Promote, by good governance, the investment into minerals sector.
• Enhanced knowledge on environmental impacts and processes of deep sea exploitation activities; improve the environmental management, including the EIA.
• Definition of boundary conditions for environmentally sustainable exploitation activities.
• Contribution to the implementation of EU initiatives: Integrated Maritime Policy, 'A Resource - Efficient Europe' roadmap and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
• New and improved knowledge on the measurement techniques for, and detailed characteristics of noise produced by mining operations; improved knowledge on the impacts of noise on deep sea ecosystems, and best practice guidance how to manage the noise footprint.
• New and improved knowledge on geological aspects of deep sea mineral sites describing the key physical parameters and characteristics and contextual settings. Focal topics include: Baseline studies, geomorphology, sediment distribution and sedimentation history, seabed and sub-seabed geochemical properties, habitat types and maps.
• Compiled overview maps of deep sea minerals distribution in Europe with quantitative resource potential estimates, adding to the transparency of EU raw materials information.
• Increase EU materials knowledge for different stakeholders.
• Create new jobs in mining and equipment manufacturing industries in many regions of the EU.
• Exploit the synergies in R&D with regards to exploration, extraction and processing including technological solutions for intelligent mining, safety and automation and create joint expert systems based on "lessons learnt" to replicate successes and avoid failures; strengthen international academic cooperation.
• Robots and tools prototypes allowing a remote and immersive tele-mining system concept.
• Improved tools for the rapid assessment of biological population structure and connectivity, essential for efficiently assessing biodiversity at genetic scale for mining sites and set-aside areas, delineating scale and direction of connectivity and identifying of source and sink populations.
• A web-enabled decision support system employing innovative techniques and technologies to model environmental decision making taking uncertainty into account: Holistic Governance Framework for Ocean Resources Sustainable Extraction.
• Autonomous deep-water environmental impact monitoring systems.
• Light-weight re-locatable monitoring network.
• Modular sensing systems for biogeochemical monitoring.
• Prototype for an enhanced acoustic monitoring network system for the characterisation of noise footprint of mining activities enabling the mitigation of noise effects and alert service.
• WEB Portal and Information Observatory.
BMT will be instrumental to ERDEM by developing the HGFORSE including Governance, Legal instruments and Management Practices, Policy Recommendations and Standardization of tools and methods for assessing the EI of minerals' excavation in a deep sea environment. BMT's extensive experience with local, state and federal government authorities, as well as community and stakeholder authorities, will be utilised to provide an acute appreciation of the constraints within which solutions for the specific activities need to be found.
BMT will build on a vast experience in preparing Environmental Impact Assessments related to seismic surveys, drilling programs, new platforms, new pipelines, platform upgrades and modifications, subsea tie-backs, shore approaches and shoreline crossings.