(Bloomberg) — A deep-sea mining robot on test mission to bring up rocks rich in cobalt and nickel from the floor of the Pacific Ocean has malfunctioned.
Controversial plans to mine the ocean floor face a key test this year when a United Nations body unveils rules that could spur the exploitation of hundreds of billions of dollars of battery metals.
Environmentalists say that would endanger fragile marine ecosystems, while the industry argues that extracting metals needed for the green-energy transition would cause less damage than terrestrial mining.
Global Sea Mineral Resources, a unit of Belgium’s DEME Group, brought up its first minerals from the ocean floor on April 20. It’s one of the companies, including DeepGreen Metals Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and China Minmetals Corp., spearheading moves to exploit seabed metals needed by electric vehicles.
“Patania II now stands on the sea floor,” GSR said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the name of its mining device.