KIOST President Kang Jung-keuk (Photo : KIOST)
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said it will test-operate a deep-sea mineral resources mining robot dubbed “Minero” at a point 1,380 meters below the sea surface 130 km east-southeast of Pohang on July 19.
The robot, developed with Korea’s own technology, is six meters long, five meters wide, four meters high, and weighs some 25 tons in the atmosphere and about nine tons under water.
It is the first time the Minero will undergo a test run digging manganese nodules and the experiment will focus on whether the robot will be able to drive along the sea floor of the Pacific Ocean, navigate deep-sea routes, and control courses.
The government has been pushing for the exploration of manganese nodule reserves 5,000 meters below the sea surface in Korea’s exclusive 75,000 sq. km exploration mining block in the Clarion-Clipperton (C-C) Zone, 2,000 km southeast of Hawaii, which the nation secured from the International Seabed Authority in 2002. It is also striving for the commercialization of the related technologies.
Based on the outcomes of the experiment, the MOF and the Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST) plans to complete the commercialization of the technologies related to the mining of manganese nodules ranging from 2,000-meter deep-sea mining and lifting of pipes to the refining of manganese nodules into strategic metals by 2015.
Manganese nodules, containing manganese, nickel, and copper cobalt, which are scattered along the deep sea floor, are dubbed “the black treasure trove of the sea bed.” Korea’s exclusive exploration area in the C-C Zone is believed to have about 560 million tons of manganese nodule reserves, equivalent to mining 3 million tons annually over a 100-year period, with an economic value estimated at $370 billion. If about 60 percent of the reserves are mined normally, and technology development and commercialization are completed, the project will have an economic effect of substituting imports worth more than 1 trillion won annually.
KIOST Celebrates 1st Anniversary
Institute aims to become a global leader of marine science & technology
The Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST) celebrated the first anniversary of its establishment at the KIOST headquarters in Ansan, Gyeonggi-do, on June 28.
KIOST President Kang Jung-keuk, said in his commemorative speech, “KIOST has been grinding it out to lay a solid foundation for R&D in the maritime science and technology field everywhere throughout the five oceans in a bid to become one of the next-generation marine science & technology leaders.”
Korea and China’s June 26 signing of an MOU on cooperation in the marine field during their summit talks not only reflects heightened national attention on the marine science and technology sector, but also indicates a rising significance in the international community’s collaboration in the field, President Kang said.
KIOST 1st Vice President Park Chan-hong read the speech on behalf of KIOST President Kang, who was on a visit to Beijing to participate in a ceremony for the signing of the MOU between Korea and China in the marine field.
The Korea Ocean Research & Develo-pment Institute (KORDI), which has driven the development of the marine sciences and technology of Korea for more than 40 years since its establishment in 1973, was reborn into KIOST one year ago in accordance with the call of the times for advancing Korea’s marine science and technology levels in a comprehensive and intensive manner. KIOST will hold an event to mark the 40th anniversary in October.
Kang said one year has passed since KIOST was established as a think tank charged with the development and commercialization of basic and proprietary technologies leading the marine R&D field, the establishment of action plans for the realization of the creative economy through marine science and technology, and the proposing of diverse policies to protect Korea’s marine territories, as well as the cultivating of gifted manpower as next-generation marine science & technology leaders.
“Looking back on one year,” he said, “KIOST got the good news shortly after its establishment – Korea was granted the right to explore and mine an exclusive hydrothermal deposit zone off the Indian Ocean. Last November, Korea and Peru established a joint marine science and technology research center, and this past June, KIOST and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States held an opening ceremony for the KIOST-NOAA Lab Extension at the conference room of the Korea-U.S. Science Cooperation Center (KUSCO).”