This paper, a product of an intensive eight-week Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust (LRET) Collegium held during July – September 2012 in Southampton, UK, presents an innovative engineering system concept design for manganese nodule recovery. Issues associated with environmental impacts, such as insufficient or lack of transparent impact studies of any potential full-scale seabed mining, are identified as the key obstacles which could lead to public protest, thus prevent the mining project from taking place. Hence, the proposed system introduces an environmentally friendly solution with the innovative concept of a black box, which performs in-situ nodule-sediment separation and waste discharge, and allows recirculation of waste water. The use of a modularised mining system with small, active hydraulic, crawler-type collectors is proposed to minimise environmental footprint and increase system redundancy. This yields a comparable estimated sediment-to-dry nodule ratio with previous studies in sediment plume impact assessment. The proposed system is a big leap towards a more environmentally friendly solution for achieving (the first) full-scale manganese nodule recovery. Together with the intended small production scale of 0.5 millions dry nodules per year, the proposed system can also be considered as a full-scale experiment or field measurement: a platform for full-scale research concurrently, particularly in the area of environmental impacts. The proposed system, intended to spur more interest in environmental impact studies and to be more transparent to the public, could benefit both industry and research institutes, for the benefit of everybody.

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