Electric robots will soon be crawling along the sea floor and sucking up precious metals through a giant straw in a controversial trial to mine some of the ocean’s deepest, most pristine environments.
Deep-sea mining operator The Metals Company has been granted approval by the International Seabed Authority to begin testing its collection system in Pacific waters. It will be the first time since the 1970s that this has been allowed to occur.
Deep seabed mining companies want to collect deposits of minerals and precious metals that can be used in the production of products like smartphones and computers. The Metals Company chief executive Gerard Barron told the ABC it was a very significant step towards deep-sea mining at a commercial scale.
“We’ll be mobilising in the coming days,” Mr Barron said. One of the company’s vessels is now preparing to leave Mexico, while another is already surveying the lucrative mining zone located between Mexico and Hawaii.
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