Deep Sea Mining

Deep sea minerals have been seen as a potential new source for in demand metals and rare earth elements. Offshore sector firms are eyeing the potential for a new revenue stream. Elaine Maslin reports.

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submerged trials deep sea mining
The Nautilus Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) from left to right, the Collecting Machine (CM), the Bulk Cutter (BC) and the Auxiliary Cutter (AC). All three were designed and built at Soil Machine Dynamic’s facility in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. © Nautilus Minerals.

ELAINE MASLIN on OFFSHORE ENGINEER | 1 October 2017

“Many are looking to a new resource, deep sea minerals, thanks to growth in demand from emerging economies and the development of new technologies that require increased supply of metals such as copper.

While interest in mining metals from the deeps has been ongoing since the 1960s, activity has remained low, due to low metal prices and the challenges of operating in deep sea environments. This activity is also the focus of strong local and environmental opposition.

Slowly, however, the pieces have been falling into place to permit this activity. In 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) established the International Seabed Authority (ISA), based in Jamaica, to organize and regulate mineral-related activities in seabed areas beyond the limits of national jurisdictions.

More recently, the MIDAS project, which sought to assess the environmental hazards of deep sea mining, reported its findings. Many in the offshore sector, with technologies that could be complimentary to this space, are watching, but there are still concerns over its impact.”

Read the full article on Offshore Engineer