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This chapter looks at the techno-economic feasibility of processing of polymetallic nodules obtained from Pacific as well as Indian Ocean with an emphasis on cobalt market. Numerous processing routes have been developed for recovery of three (Cu + Ni + Co) as well as four (Cu + Ni + Co + Mn) metals. Some of the processes tested on scales varying from tens to a few hundreds of kilograms per batch indicate that there are no major gaps in the processing technologies. With the passage of time, recovery of molybdenum and rare earth elements (Mo and REE) from this resource has also gained importance. Various feasibility studies for extraction of metals from polymetallic nodules are presented in this chapter with respect to operating and capital investments for a 1.5/3.0 million tonne plant. It appears that enhanced requirement of cobalt and nickel mainly for the battery industry may drive the deep-sea mining in the future. The study concludes that it would be advisable to target 4+ metal recoveries (including Mo, REE, etc.) and design a flexible flow sheet for optimal product mix to get maximum value addition.
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