Renee Grogan is the cofounder and chief sustainability officer at Impossible Metals.
The noise around carbon emissions reduction and the transition to a green economy is deafening, particularly as we observe the progress of COP27. As a result, it can be hard to get a feel for what is going well and what isn’t.
Except when leaders from Pacific nations address COP standing in several feet of water that wasn’t there a few years ago—that seems to send a pretty clear message that whatever’s happening, it’s not really happening fast enough. In the context of this busy and noisy space, deep-sea mining might be one of the biggest issues you’ve never heard about.
Deep-sea mining mostly relates to the mining of potato-sized rocks that sit on the seafloor at about 5,000 meters water depth, and hold vast quantities (comparatively much more than terrestrial mines) of metals like cobalt, copper and nickel—which are vital to building infrastructure associated with the “green transition”—wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries.
Those in favor of DSM will tell you that the demands for key minerals such as cobalt, nickel and lithium are so high that they cannot be met by currently available terrestrial resources, and/or recycling streams—in other words, we cannot solve the climate crisis without them.