Deep sea mining

About two-thirds of the surface of the Earth is covered by the oceans. And since on land mines are depleting, due to human greed, it is hardly surprising people are looking to explore the seabed for resources. This is known as deep-sea mining.

Though deep sea mining is expensive, increased demand has driven up prices of certain minerals to such levels, that it has become economically viable. Especially elements like copper, zinc, manganese and cobalt seems to be of great interest.

ScienceDaily reports the following studies regarding deep sea mining:

Scientists urge caution, further assessment of ecological impacts above deep sea mining

Simulated deep-sea mining affects ecosystem functions of seafloor

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

Biodiversity loss from deep-sea mining will be unavoidable

The bottom line of all these studies is that the environmental risks of deep sea mining are simply too large. However, with the number of humans estimated to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064 and more importantly growing wealth, it seems inevitable that our species will move to extract resources from the ocean floor.

Fortunately, there are a few alternatives to deep sea mining. First of all, improved recycling will mean that we will need less new resources to meet demand (for instance new phones could be made of old ones). Secondly, mining near earth asteroids could also provide required minerals without unnecessary harming our planet’s environment.

Given these alternatives and the unrecoverable damage to our environment, we believe that deep sea mining should be strictly limited or preferably banned all together.

2 thoughts on “Deep sea mining”

  1. The demand for metals is so high that sophisticated scavengers are robbing World War II shipwrecks. From:

    Dozens of warships believed to contain the remains of thousands of British, American, Australian, Dutch and Japanese servicemen from the second world war have been illegally ripped apart by salvage divers, the Guardian can reveal.

    An analysis of ships discovered by wreck divers and naval historians has found that up to 40 second world war-era vessels have already been partially or completely destroyed. Their hulls might have contained the corpses of 4,500 crew.

    Governments fear other unmarked graves are at risk of being desecrated. Hundreds more ships – mostly Japanese vessels that could contain the war graves of tens of thousands of crew killed during the war – remain on the seabed.

    The rusted 70-year-old wrecks are usually sold as scrap but the ships also contain valuable metals such as copper cables and phosphor bronze propellors.

    Experts said grave diggers might be looking for even more precious treasures – steel plating made before the nuclear testing era, which filled the atmosphere with radiation. These submerged ships are one of the last sources of “low background steel”, virtually radiation-free and vital for some scientific and medical equipment.

Comments are closed.