Is deep sea mining vital for a greener future – even if it destroys ecosystems?

A new gold rush is targeting rich ores on the ocean floor containing valuable metals needed for smartphones and green technologies, but also hosting exotic ecosystems

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Taking a sample from a copper-rich chimney off Papua New Guinea coast. Photograph: Nautilus minerals

DAMIAN CARRINGTON on THE GUARDIAN | 4 June 2017

“Mining the deep ocean floor for valuable metals is both inevitable and vital, according to the scientists, engineers and industrialists exploring the world’s newest mining frontier.

The special metals found in rich deposits there are critical for smart electronics and crucial green technologies, such as solar power and electric cars. But as the world’s population rises, demand is now outstripping the production from mines on land for some important elements.

Those leading the global rush to place giant mining machines thousands of metres below the sea surface say the extraordinary richness of the underwater ores mean the environmental impacts will be far lower than on land. But critics say exotic and little-known ecosystems in the deep oceans could be destroyed and must be protected.”

 

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