United States sitting out race to mine ocean floor for metals essential to electronics (CBS News – November 13, 2019)


One of the most high-stakes races in history is underway, with colossal riches waiting for the winners. It’s a race to a little known frontier: the bottom of the sea. Around the world, thousands of engineers and scientists are in fierce competition to build the first undersea robot that can mine the ocean floor.

The explosion of interest in deep sea mining is driven by the demands of our high-tech economy. The deep ocean is the El Dorado that contains metals like nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements, essential for use in cell phones, supercomputers and electric cars. They’re also critical for a green future of solar and wind power.

Dozens of nations, including Russia and China, are racing to get there first. But not the United States. As Bill Whitaker reports, America must sit on the sidelines of this great treasure hunt. Whitaker’s report will be broadcast on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS.

The deep sea metals are estimated to be worth as much as $16 trillion. They’re found in lumps of black rock called nodules, and there are trillions of them strewn across a vast, muddy desert in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, in the middle of the Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico.

It’s sunken treasure because every nodule contains nickel, copper, cobalt, manganese and traces of rare earth elements. It’s estimated there are more metals on the bottom of the ocean than anywhere on the planet.

For the rest of this article and video report: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/united-states-sitting-out-race-to-mine-ocean-floor-for-rare-earth-elements-metals-electronics-60-minutes-2019-11-13/