Papua New Guinea
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Kongsberg to help Pacific seabed miner

Pacific island nations have expressed concerns, to greater or lesser degrees, over sea bed mining for base metal nodules in their waters.

Metals Company and Kongsberg say the digital twin will help understanding the environmental effects of its operations on the seabed.

A new phase of the project will see the addition of additional data streams to the Digital Twin, including data from sensors on the seabed and from remotely operated vehicles. "This data will be used to train AI models to determine the key outcomes of Metal Company's operations, such as the environmental impacts of robotic collectors operating on the seafloor."

The 3D visualisation of deep-sea operations will be made available to stakeholders.

Metals Company CEO Gerard Barron says the Digital Twin and AMS will bring "unprecedented visibility to our NORI-D nodule project, enabling the regulator and stakeholders to see exactly what we are doing, and when and where we're doing it".

"This is the world's first digital twin for subsea nodule collection and in the future, when combined with our AMS, there is potential for this system to enable operational optimisation and transparency across other projects, whether in the deep sea or on land. This is a mission-critical system for us, and we could not have chosen a better, more experienced partner than Kongsberg Digital, which proved during test mining last year that they are well up to the task."

Metals Company chief technology officer Andy Jones said the "hybrid machine learning capability enabled by Kongsberg Digital's Kognitwin is important to our future deep-sea operations and environmental monitoring".

"This AI-driven approach will enable continuous learning and adaptation and enable us to test ‘what-if' scenarios, allowing NORI to optimizse for efficient operations while minimising environmental effects."

The development between the firms is intended to be complete in 2023. The system will then be used to support the operation of the nodule project, which is expected to start production in 2025.