Deep-Sea Mining Could Help Meet Demand for Critical Minerals, But Also Comes with Serious Obstacles (U.S. Government Accountability Office – December 16, 2021)

Deep below the sea lay critical minerals that are both high in value and demand. These critical minerals—such as cobalt, nickel, and manganese—are used in everyday devices like cellphones and cars. But they are hard to come by, and demand is expected to double or triple by 2030.

Because of this demand, interest has turned toward the deep ocean seabed, which contains vast quantities of critical and other minerals. Today’s WatchBlog post looks at our new Science & Tech Spotlight on deep-sea mining—how it works and its challenges.

Where are the deep-sea minerals located?

The deep sea contains three primary sources for mining critical minerals:

1-potato-size manganese nodules (rich in manganese, cobalt, copper, nickel, and rare earth elements);
2-deposits of sulfur-containing minerals around underwater openings known as hydrothermal vents; and
3-cobalt-rich crusts lining the sides of mid-ocean ridges and underwater mountains, also known as seamounts.

Many of these deposits are located in international waters, and can be hundreds to thousands of miles from shore. In fact, the Clarion-Clipperton Zone spans 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico, and it is a potential hotbed for critical minerals.

For the rest of this document:,-also-comes-serious-obstacles