Size of the DSM Opportunity

Resource Comparison

Global subsea metal tonnage is estimated at around 250 trillion (dry) tons, which is almost 20x the estimated global terrestrial tonnage of 13 trillion tons. This is in part due to the vast expanse of the Oceans (which cover 70% of the planet's surface), and in part that terrestrial reserves have been significantly exploited and depleted.


Tables 3.3 and 3.4,

"Estimates of metals contained in abyssal manganese nodules and ferromanganese crusts in the global ocean based on regional variations and genetic types of nodules"

Kira Mizell, James R. Hein, Manda Viola Au, and Amy Gartman,

Cobalt-rich crusts dominate the subsea tonnage, and make up around 80% of the estimated total. Polymetallic nodules are only around 20% of the subsea total, but are still approximately 3.6x the total terrestrial resources.

Resource Breakdown

Terrestrial Tonnage
Global Cobalt-Rich Crusts
(dry tons)
Global Polymetallic Nodules
(dry tons)
Global Subsea Compared to Terrestrial
Manganese 5200000000 185000000000 42200000000 4369.23%
Cobalt 25000000 4510000000 645000000 20620.00
Copper 5600000000 802000000 853000000 29.55
Nickel 300000000 3230000000 1250000000 1493.33
Lithium 86000000 9580000 16700000 30.56
Rare Earth Elements + Ytrrium (REY) 486940000 1990000000 353000000 481.17
Titanium 1200000000 9170000000 1980000000 929.17
Molybdenum 25400000 428000000 85300000 2020.87
Tungsten 7000000 78900000 12800000 1310.00
Zirconium 77000000 556000000 112000000 867.53


"Critical metals in manganese nodules from the Cook Islands EEZ, abundances and distributions"

James R. Hein, Francesca Spinardi, Nobuyuki Okamoto, Kira Mizell, Darryl Thorburn, Akuila Tawake,

Ore Geology Reviews, Volume 68, 2015, Pages 97-116, ISSN 0169-1368

Resource Comparison

Which Resources Matter?

Subsea minerals can provide the majority of metals required for the green revolution.

Clean energy technologies like solar cells and wind farms require more metal per MW of generating capacity than conventional power generation sources. The metals are also rarer and more exotic, for instance, Rare Earth Elements like terbium, neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium are key components of the permanent magnets used in wind turbines.

Polymetallic nodules have been called a "battery in a rock" because they provide the majority of the metals that are needed for Electric Vehicles.

Electric vehicles require a range of rarer and more exotic metals, particularly for their batteries, but also for permanent magnets in electric motors.

Cobalt, Lithium, Manganese and Nickel are some of the main constituents of polymetallic nodules, and large quantities of these metals are needed for electric batteries.

Phillip Gales is a serial entrepreneur who has built tech companies in various heavy industries including Oil & Gas, Construction, Real Estate and Supply Chain Logistics.

Phillip holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, and an MEng in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, specialising in Machine Intelligence.