15 March 2011
IHC Merwede and DEME join forces to develop deep-sea mining activities
IHC Merwede, a Dutch supplier of ships and equipment for dredging and mining activities, and DEME, a Belgian dredging and environmental services group, will enter into a joint venture for deep-sea mining activities. Under their cooperative agreement, IHC Merwede will be responsible for the development and construction of technical solutions, while DEME will be responsible for operations. Together the companies will offer a unique pioneering total solution. The joint venture will be known as OceanflORE.
The parties cooperating under the name “OceanflORE” (ORE stands for Ocean Reserve Extraction) will cater to meet the increasing demand for both expertise and exploitation techniques in the field of deep-sea mining. The joint venture between IHC Merwede and DEME is a logical step. Deep- sea mining is an important industry for IHC Merwede. The company has many years of experience and knowledge in the field of dredging, excavation techniques and deep-sea mining technology. DEME is a leading global player in the dredging and offshore market, and has highly specialised experience in the application of complex offshore hydraulic engineering technologies, even in extremely deep waters.
Tideway, an OceanflORE group company, has high-tech equipment which can be deployed accurately even at depths required for mining. Another important advantage offered by the OceanflORE group is its extensive experience in the entire processing of mined material on a mining vessel before transportation to the mainland. These activities include both the integral processing of the extracted raw materials, and the washing and separation of materials. OceanflORE aspires to become the preferred partner of mine owners throughout the world for completing feasibility studies and deep-sea mining operations.
The demand for raw materials is expected to double during the coming decades. Existing sources on land will not be adequate to meet this demand. At the same time, the field of deep-sea mining techniques is developing increasingly rapidly and the technical feasibility is becoming evident. These trends have led to a growing interest in the possibilities offered by deep-sea mining throughout the world. Additionally, capital markets are more often willing to finance projects due to the increased certainties involved.
The OceanflORE joint venture will be in a position to take advantage of these developments. Combining the knowledge of IHC Merwede and DEME, feasibility studies carried out by OceanflORE will subsequently enable every important aspect of deep-sea mining to be developed, manned and operated. These aspects include underwater excavation, vertical transportation to the surface, processing on board the mining vessel and transportation to the harbour. This enables OceanflORE to provide a unique complete solution for deep-sea mining, including all aspects related to the financing of projects, plus comprehensive project management through the deployment of crew and ships, mining equipment and a processing plant.
Research and exploitation
OceanflORE will carry out a study on the feasibility of mining phosphates in New Zealand territorial waters. The joint venture will also develop a pilot mining system.
Company profile IHC Merwede
IHC Merwede is focussed on the continuous development of design and construction activities for the specialist maritime sector. It is the global market leader for efficient dredging and mining vessels and equipment – with vast experience accumulated over decades – and a reliable supplier of custom-built ships and supplies for offshore construction.
IHC Merwede has in-house expertise for engineering and manufacturing innovative vessels and advanced equipment, as well as providing life-cycle support. Its integrated systematic approach has helped to develop optimum product performance and long-term business partnerships. The company’s broad customer base includes dredging operators, oil and gas corporations, offshore contractors and government authorities.
IHC Merwede has over 3,000 employees based at various locations in The Netherlands, China, Croatia, France, India, the Middle East, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Technological innovation will remain the company’s underlying strength through its continuous investment in research and development. Moreover, it helps to safeguard a sustainable environment.
Company profile DEME
The Belgian dredging and environmental group DEME is a conglomerate of enterprises with roots established more than one and a half centuries ago. The Group specialises in capital and maintenance dredging, port constructions and expansions, providing services to the oil and gas industry, wreckage clearing, deep-sea operations, the construction of offshore wind parks, plus a wide range of environmental activities – from water treatment and sludge recycling to soil remediation and the treatment of either lightly or heavily contaminated sedimentation. DEME has gained important, in-house expertise via its operational companies such as Tideway (accurate offshore specialities to great depths), DBM (extracting and onboard processing of sea granulates) and DEC (treating, washing, separating and processing dredged materials). All these resources will be available to support OceanflORE. In addition, DEME has an excellent reputation in relation to engineering project financing packages. DEME operates a modern, multifunctional and versatile fleet of 90 dredging vessels, specialised equipment for conducting complex infrastructure work at sea and very specific work to great depths and around 200 auxiliary vessels. Throughout its history, the Group has been a constant trendsetter and pioneer in terms of the development of new techniques within all of the disciplines in which it operates. The company employs a 4,000-strong workforce. The Group is active worldwide – in 2010, it completed projects in 50 countries on all continents.