Deep-sea mining and species survival – by Craig Guthrie (Mining Magazine – June 21, 2023)

A battle raging between conservationists and miners which already spans from the desert-like plains of Nevada to the frozen tundra of the Sami in Scandinavia, has found a new flashpoint – a remote, expansive region of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico.

Scientists from Britain’s Natural History Museum (NHM) said in May that as a result of compiling all the records from expeditions to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ, which has been targeted for mineral exploration, they estimate over 5,000 yet-to-be-named species are thriving among the polymetallic nodules resting there.

The revelation has ignited a fresh wave of claims and counter-claims between conservationists striving to protect those newfound species and miners who say minerals from the ocean’s depths are essential for mankind’s shift away from fossil fuels.

Intrigue over the topic was heightened by Norway confirming this week that it plans to open its waters to deep-sea mining, despite angry opposition from domestic green campaigners and some countries.

The NHM report, published in Current Biology, is effectively the first CCZ checklist for “metazoan” fauna, meaning any multicellular animal that obtains nutrients by consuming other organisms and which has cells that specialise in different functions.

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