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There has been little discussion in most technical circles about the commercial importance of ocean-mined minerals. This paper outlines the market position in the United States and the free world of ferroalloys of manganese, nickel, and cobalt which can be produced from this new source of minerals. The national security value for the United States and the free world of these metals which can be produced from nodules is significant. In contrast, the market share impact under normal circumstances of material produced from nodules is likely to be moderate to small on a world scale, except in the case of cobalt. The market impact was determined by a study of publicly available information on the size and nature of the market for the subject ferroalloys. The results of these studies and other information indicate that the timing of market entry of those consortia now doing exploration and development depends on the resolution of political, technical, and economic barriers. Past investments in ocean mining activity of several consortia are substantial. The capital needs of the existing consortia to commercialize these ventures are large. The development of this embryonic industry is at a critical stage and its long-range potential depends on favorable political support in the United States and the rest of the free world.
ferroalloys, ocean mining, nodules, steel geopolitics, minerals
Market research analyst, U.S. Steel Corp., Pittsburgh, Pa.