WHAT ARE SMS DEPOSITS?
Seafloor Massive Sulphide ("SMS") deposits form on the ocean floor and contain appreciable concentrations of copper, zinc, gold, silver and other trace metals. They are the modern-day equivalents of ancient 'land-based' Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide ("VMS") deposits such as Kidd Creek in Canada. VMS deposits are a major source of the world's copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver
HOW DO SMS DEPOSITS FORM?
SMS deposits form on the seafloor in water depths of up to ~4000 m. They form in areas where new ocean crust is forming, such as seafloor spreading centres. Seawater is drawn down through fractures in the oceanic crust, towards a hot buried magma chamber at depth (molten rock body). The heated seawater transforms into a hot acidic hydrothermal fluid and convection causes the fluid to rise up again towards the seafloor.
WHERE ARE SMS DEPOSITS FOUND?
THE SMS DEPOSITS OF SOLWARA 1
The SMS deposits at Solwara 1 are associated with high grade polymetallic sulphide systems, which are particularly rich in copper and gold. The viability of the Project is underpinned by the high grades of Solwara 1. Indicated resources are 870,000 t of ore containing 6.8% copper and 4.8 g/t gold. Inferred resources are 1,300,000 t of ore containing 7.5% copper and 7.2 g/t gold. The Project comprises two phases and it is proposed to develop Phase 1 in advance of Phase 2.
Exploration of these zones has presented a challenge to scientists for decades and much still remains to be discovered. However, increased technological advancements are allowing scientists to learn more about the life that exists in this environment. Life in the deep sea must withstand total darkness, extreme cold and great pressure. To learn more about deep-sea marine life, we use sophisticated data collection devices to collect observational, geological and biological samples from the deep.
Remote Operated Vehicles ("ROVs") have been used underwater since the 1950s. ROVs are basically unmanned submarine robots with umbilical cables used to transmit data between the vehicle and researcher for remote operation in areas where diving is constrained by physical hazards. Our ROVs are fitted with video and still cameras as well as mechanical tools for specimen retrieval and measurement. Much of what we learn about the deep sea environment comes as a result of ROV data.