NMIC Seminar Series: Mining the Deep Seabed - A Viable Approach to Meeting the Critical Needs of the U.S. for Secure, Responsibly Sourced Metals

Release Date:

Mining the Deep Seabed - A Viable Approach to Meeting the Critical Needs of the U.S. for Secure, Responsibly Sourced Metals

Dr. John Halkyard and Hans Smit, Ocean Minerals LLC

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - 11:00 AM ET

USGS - 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA - 3B457

For remote access: https://www.gotomeet.me/NMICSeminars


Dr. John Halkyard is an ocean engineer with over 40 years’ experience in deep ocean system development, including deep ocean mining and floating production systems (FPS) for oil & gas. Between 1971 - 1980 he was Chief Ocean Engineer and Director of the Ocean Mining Laboratory for the Kennecott Consortium, one of the pioneers in the development of deep-sea manganese nodule mining. He led a team of scientists and engineers in the successful development and testing of pilot scale mining equipment.  He supervised the compilation of a definitive feasibility study of the mining and processing of nodules. This study was performed by Bechtel Corporation and Global Marine Development Company and included detailed investigation of the construction and operating costs of a processing plant on the U. S. West Coast, and in Mexico. From 1980 - 2007 Dr. Halkyard focused on deep water oil & gas drilling and production. He founded his own consulting company, Ocean Engineering Consultants, Inc. (OEC), which successfully developed equipment for inspection of deep-sea mooring systems under sponsorship of the U. S. Department of Interior, Minerals Management Service.   

In 2011, Dr. Halkyard co-founded Deep Reach Technology, Inc. (DRT) to support the renewed interest in deep sea mining. DRT provides services and develops proprietary technology. In 2014, the U S Army Research Lab engaged DRT to study the feasibility of extracting rare earth elements (REEs) from recently discovered deposits in the seabed muds. Dr. Halkyard formed a team that determined that REEs could potentially be economically extracted from the seabed, and that there could be commercial deposits in the exclusive economic zone of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. In 2016, Dr. Halkyard founded Ocean Minerals, LLC (OML), which entered into an agreement with the Cook Island for certain rights over 60,000 sq km of prospective seabed for REE recovery. In 2017, OML entered into a separate agreement with the Cook Islands for exclusive rights to polymetallic nodules containing cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese. 


Mr. Hans Smit’s career started in the South African Navy where he was involved in mine hunting both operationally and as part of the engineering support teams. Following the completion of his service he joined the defense contracting industry, engineering and developing software solutions for electronic warfare systems. He entered the marine commercial realm at the start of the expansion of underwater diamond mining off the south western coast of Africa, specifically South Africa and Namibia. 

During the mid to late 1990’s and into the 2000’s Mr. Smit was instrumental in numerous significant underwater mining projects and specifically for the design and implementation of the current crawler technology that is De Beers Mining company’s system of choice for mining underwater diamonds. He has developed and operated multiple underwater sampling systems and including instrumentation and software to optimize and improve productivity of these systems. Mr. Smit has also completed mining scoping and prefeasibility studies for underwater phosphates, gold and mineral mud mines.

In recent years, Mr. Smit has focused on deep water mining projects with involvement with Neptune Minerals Inc., Deep Reach Technology and Ocean Minerals. In this capacity he has led successful drilling and sampling campaigns, recovering drill core from SMS deposits and pilot testing a deepwater mining tool. He has led numerous studies to conceptualize mining solutions in order to estimate the economics of underwater mining.