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Negotiations continue over the Financial Model

Though it seems closer than ever, deep-sea mining has always been driven in part by an abundance of optimism. In his 1974 treatise on The Control of the Sea-Bed, Evan Luard estimated that the pace of exploration and technological development for polymetallic nodule extraction was such that “it will therefore probably only take a few […]

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Seasteading provides an illuminating look at interpretation of law on the high seas

There is a vast chasm between the reality of maritime law, formed by generations of treaties negotiated at the highest levels of government in the often inscrutably complex language of international diplomacy, and the common belief within civil society that areas beyond national jurisdiction are essentially lawless. Nowhere is this gulf more apparent than within […]

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A Primer on Polymetallic Nodule Fields

Scattered across the abyssal plain at depths from 4000 to 6500 meters, polymetallic nodules are the most abundant and broadly distributed of the three major ore types currently being pursued by deep-sea mining companies. Originally referred to as manganese nodules, this small, potato-sized accretions on the seafloor were first discovered during the Challenger Expedition in […]

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Solid state batteries could change the seascape for deep-sea mining

In 1980, Dr. John B. Goodenough unraveled the electro-chemical reactions that would give birth to one of the single most important inventions of the 20th century: the lithium ion battery. The first commercially viable rechargeable lithium ion batteries were soon being produced by Dr. Akira Yoshino at Sony. Without these tiny cells’ immense potential to […]

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Ramping up for REMPs: An introduction to Regional Environmental Management Plans.

As deep-sea mining creeps towards production and the International Seabed Authority works diligently to produce a comprehensive Mining Code for exploitation in the Area, stakeholders from across the spectrum are racing to answer one question: how do we predict, assess, manage, and mitigate environmental harm in the deep sea beyond national jurisdiction? Increasingly, regulators, contractors, […]

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Barnacles attached to hydrothermal vent spires feeding at Kawio Barat. Critics of the Solwara 1 project raised concerns about its potential impact on the ecosystems that center on hydrothermal vents. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010

A Primer on Seafloor Massive Sulphides

Formed at the margins where tectonic plates collide or diverge, seafloor massive sulphides are the most geologically active and among the most metal-rich deep-sea deposits. Only discovered in 1977 (though there were some tantalizing near misses several decades earlier), exploration on these prospects is relatively immature compared to formations like polymetallic nodule fields, which have […]

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Brazil's claim for the Rio Grande Rise.

One of the most significant deep-sea mining negotiations is underway at the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

One of the most significant discussions in deep-sea mining is happening not a the International Seabed Authority, but in the offices of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. The CLCS is responsible for assessing outer continental shelf claims, those portions of a nation’s continental […]

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