The rewards and risks of deep-sea mining



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Deep in the Pacific Ocean there are potato-shaped rocks that are key for the fight against climate change they take millions of years to form and they’re packed with Metals used to make cell phones batteries for electric vehicles wind turbines solar panels and other electronic devices as the world pushes for green

Energy deep sea mining is increasingly coming in to focus and the question is this should we be extracting those minerals to help fight climate change scientists say they’re not sure what kind of damage that might cause to marine ecosystems but those minerals are increasingly becoming harder to find on

Land as demand for them Soares the most prominent type of deep sea mining involves using a giant robot that’s sent down to the ocean floor it travels to depths of roughly 5,000 m to the least explored place on the planet there it vacuums up the polymetallic nodule ules the potato-shaped rocks from

The seabed the nodules are composed of Manganese nickel copper Cobalt and other Trace materials some of the key ingredients needed to fuel the energy transition by 2040 the world will need twice the amount of these Metals as it’s using today to meet Global energy transition targets according to the

International Energy agency mining costs to find them on land have gone up and it’s contributed to deforestation produc proded large amounts of toxic waste and even fueled a rise in child labor in some parts of the world supporters say this is what makes deep sea mining more appealing but environmentalists argue

Land mining will continue whether or not deep sea mining is allowed Decades of research has shown that deep sea mining could harm marine life or ecosystems once thought of as a desert devoid of Life the seabed is now estimated to have an extensive range of of biodiversity as the robot moves across

The ocean floor it stir up huge sediment clouds that disrupt the deep sea environment which could harm the reproduction of corals and sponges mining could also destroy undiscovered hydrothermal Springs which have been found to act as octopus nurseries it’s also targeted at inactive hydrothermal vents which exist near active Vents and

Are part of unique habitats for example the scaly foot snail calls active vent’s home and is now the first animal to be listed as endangered due to the risk of deep sea mining any country can allow deep sea mining in its territorial Waters Japan Norway and the Cook Islands are close to

Allowing it a March 2023 petition had more than 1,000 signatories from 34 countries and 56 indigenous groups calling for a total ban on the practice this is Greenpeace France activist Francois chartier in fact with mining like all extractivist models we are ultimately carrying on we are not transitioning at

All but carrying on with an extractivist model but for countries like NAU a small island nation that is slowly being engulfed by the Pacific Ocean slowing the pace of climate change is crucial it’s pushing for deep sea mining regulations so companies can get to work

A number of metals crucial for batteries and other green tech lie on the ocean floor. Are the ecological risks of extracting them greater than mining on land? Follow The Globe and Mail




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