Deep-sea mining: A new gold rush or environmental disaster? (Al Jazeera – July 10, 2023)

Environmentalists warn deep-sea mining could cause major damage to unknown ecosystems, yet mining companies argue it is the key to the energy transition.

In the depths of the Pacific Ocean between Mexico and Hawaii, trillions of potato-shaped rocks scattered across the seabed contain minerals such as nickel, cobalt and manganese that are vital for green technologies in the global energy transition.

In this region – the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) – an abundance of the rocks, known as polymetallic nodules, is fuelling debate about the mining of metals needed to produce technology such as batteries for electric vehicles.

Environmentalists say deep-sea mining could cause critical damage to ecosystems that scientists know little about, yet mining companies argue that it is better for the environment than land-based extraction. More than a dozen nations have sponsored small-scale exploration projects, but commercial mining of international waters is not permitted. That ban will be debated at a UN meeting in Jamaica beginning this week.

Gerard Barron, CEO of The Metals Company, which is leading efforts to scoop up the nodules thousands of metres underwater, said mining the ocean does less damage to nature than extraction in places like the Indonesian rainforest.

For the rest of this article: