Archive | Deep Sea Mining

Deep dive to new resources – by Graham Lloyd (The Australian – January 1, 2021)

Gerard Barron wants to secure a battery-powered future — from the sea floor.

In the global race to remake the world for a low emissions future, Gerard Barron just may be Australia’s Elon Musk.

Where Musk is obsessed with electric cars and deep space, Barron is focused on the abyssal plains located 4500m below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

Barron is leading a gathering push to exploit a base metals resource that has been known about a long time but has been too difficult to exploit for political, environmental and logistic reasons. Continue Reading →

Opinion: California Should Prohibit Seabed Mining to Protect Fisheries and Communities – by Bob Kurz (Times of San Diego – December 7, 2020)

Bob Kurz serves on the state board of Coastal Conservation Association California and is also a trustee for the International Game Fish Association.

Growing demand for gold, platinum, phosphorous and other valuable minerals found off our coast may someday lead mining companies to bring destructive extractive machinery to California’s nearshore seafloor.

The result could be widespread damage to the kelp forests, rocky reefs, coral gardens and other areas that nurture fish and wildlife and sustain the recreational and commercial fisheries vital to our coastal economy.

The California State Lands Commission should proactively address this threat by implementing a precautionary ban on seabed mining for hard minerals in state waters. Continue Reading →

Why the Philippines Needs to Establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund – by Mark Manantan, Emerson M. Sanchez and Jayson S. Lamchek (The Diplomat – October 12, 2020)

The country needs to ensure that its bounty of offshore wealth benefits the people, not just a privileged elite.

The Filipino tycoon Dennis Uy, a top donor of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign and his family friend from childhood, earlier this year acquired almost half of the non-operating interest in the Malampaya gas fields, a strategic asset supplying 30 percent of the Philippines’ electricity.

The acquisition is one of many businesses purchased and government contracts clinched by Uy under Duterte’s presidency.

Uy’s rapidly growing fortune contrasts with the apparent lack of a concrete plan to ensure that the country’s considerable offshore natural resource wealth improves the lives of the masses of the Filipino people, rather than just accruing to a privileged elite. Continue Reading →

Sourcing EV battery metals from deep sea claims 90% carbon footprint reduction (Financial Express – September 21, 2020)

As the world rushes to replace internal combustion engines with electric vehicle batteries, a study suggests that polymetallic rocks found on the deep-ocean floor can be a source for hundreds of millions of tonnes of EV battery metals with dramatically lower climate impact than mining ores on land.

The study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production does a comparative life cycle assessment of battery sources, quantifying the direct and indirect emissions, disruptions to carbon sequestration services realised in the mining, processing, and refining of battery metals.

The carbon intensity of producing metals like nickel led to mounting interest in finding low-carbon metal sources, along with a plea by Tesla’s Elon Musk that promised “a giant contract” for nickel mined “efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.” Continue Reading →

Deep-Sea Mining: How to Balance Need for Metals with Ecological Impacts – by Daniel Ackerman (Scientific American – August 31, 2020)

As the industry inches closer to reality, scientists probe potential environmental harms

Slashing humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels will require billions of kilograms of metal: a single wind turbine can contain more than a metric ton of copper, and electric car batteries demand heaps of cobalt, nickel and manganese.

Most of these metals now come from terrestrial mines—often at the cost of deforestation, water pollution and human rights abuses. But a vast trove of metals on the deep-sea floor could soon provide an alternative source.

Though companies have been eyeing this possibility for decades, engineering challenges and unfavorable economics have kept work in the exploration phase. Continue Reading →

CEO Of DeepGreen Metals Talks Mining Nickel From The Seafloor — CleanTechnica Interview – by Johnna Crider (Clean Technica – August 15, 2020)

DeepGreen is a deep-sea mining company with a vision of a zero-carbon, circular economy. Its goal is to source metals with the least environmental and societal impact. I noticed the company when its social media marketer added me to a Twitter list.

DeepGreen Metals has an interesting name and it caught my attention more when I checked out its profile and was graciously offered the opportunity to interview the CEO, Gerard Barron.

I find the world of minerals, metals, and gemstones a fascinating one, and DeepGreen’s story using a technique with minerals to extract base metals for batteries really piqued my curiosity. Continue Reading →

Experts call for plan to protect deep-sea life from mining – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – June 24, 2020)

Mining the seafloor opens a vast source of key metals needed for clean energy, but should not start until a full evaluation of likely environmental impacts can be made, a report commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) shows.

The group of academics and environmentalists believe a precautionary approach to deep-sea mining is needed. Otherwise, they warn of likely irreversible damage to global aquatic ecosystems.

In their study, published on Wednesday, the experts note that copper, rare earths and iron ore were the resources that piqued miners’ original interest in exploring the seafloor. Continue Reading →

Underwater drones join hunt for trillions in mineral riches trapped on ocean’s floor – by Justin Higginbottom ( – June 6, 2020)

Across the otherworldly plains of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, some 15,000 ft below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, are clustered manganese nodules the size of potatoes. The rare earth metal deposits have grown undisturbed at a rate of about a third of an inch every several million years. Now they are targets for the nascent seabed mining industry.

But plucking them off this dark desert is no easy task. First they need to be found. That’s where underwater drones come in. Hovering just feet above the seafloor, the machines can record unprecedented details of a surface less mapped than Mars.

“If you want high-resolution information, you have to put the sensor close to what you’re looking at. An AUV [automated underwater vehicle] is the best and most accurate way to do that,” said Richard Mills, vice president of marine robotics sales at Kongsberg Maritime. His company’s creations can relay images with a resolution of 2x2cm, much better than what’s possible with a surface-level ship’s sonar. Continue Reading →

Fresh study calls for moratorium on deep-sea mining – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – May 20, 2020)

A coalition of non-profit organizations is pushing for an international moratorium on deep-sea mining following a fresh report that warns of potential irreversible damage to Pacific island states including Kiribati, the Cook Islands, Nauru, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Tuvalu.

“Accumulated scientific evidence indicates that the impacts of nodule mining in the Pacific Ocean would be extensive, severe and last for generations, causing essentially irreversible damage,” the report, commissioned by the Deep Sea Mining Campaign and MiningWatch Canada, found.

Polymetallic nodules — potato-sized metals-rich rocks that lie in a shallow layer of mud on the seafloor — are believed to be rich in cobalt, nickel, copper, manganese and rare earth metals. Continue Reading →

Extracting battery metals from seafloor may beat traditional mining — study – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – April 22, 2020)

Mining battery metals from the ocean floor could potentially eliminate or dramatically reduce most of the environmental and social impacts associated with the extraction of riches from the Earth’s surface, a new study claims.

According to a research published this week and funded by Canada’s DeepGreen Metals, a start-up planning to extract cobalt and other battery metals from the seabed, undersea mining generates up to 70% less direct CO2 emissions, 94% less stored carbon risk, as well as 90% less sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions — air pollution from maritime transportation.

Mining the ocean floor would also eliminate the issue of solid waste, while using 94% less land and 92% less forest, the report reads. Continue Reading →

DeepGreen to make run for battery metals from seafloor – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – April 7, 2020)

DeepGreen Metals, a Canadian start-up planning to extract cobalt and other battery metals from the seafloor, has added a new area to its seabed portfolio, which it believes could potentially help it solve the bottleneck supply of critical battery metals needed for the world’s green energy transition.

The strategic acquisition of Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), announced Tuesday, gives the Vancouver-based company exploration rights to a third area inside the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the Pacific Ocean.

The 4,000-kilometre swath of ocean, stretching from Hawaii to Mexico, is known for containing enough nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese to build over 250 million electric vehicle batteries. Continue Reading →

Unstable Mineral Supply Threatens Electric Car, Green Projects, Justifies Undersea, Space Mining; Report – by Neil Winton (Forbes Magazine – January 3, 2019)

The advent of the electric car is threatened by a few known knowns like range anxiety, high prices, and a thin recharging network, but now, according to a report from the University of Sussex, lurking in the background are possible shortages of the raw materials at the heart of this low-carbon revolution, which threaten to derail the whole project.

Making sure of adequate supplies is so important, mining under the sea, or even on other planets, would be justified, according to the report.

The automotive industry in Europe has been spending massively to embrace the electric car. On Thursday, Europe’s number one auto maker, Volkswagen, raised the stakes of its electric plans by bringing forward its target of producing one million electric cars a year by two years, to the end of 2023. By 2025 this will reach 1.5 million a year. Continue Reading →

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin – by Wil S. Hylton (The Atlantic – January/February 2020)

It’s underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable.

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific.

For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up. Continue Reading →

United States sitting out race to mine ocean floor for metals essential to electronics (CBS News – November 13, 2019)

One of the most high-stakes races in history is underway, with colossal riches waiting for the winners. It’s a race to a little known frontier: the bottom of the sea. Around the world, thousands of engineers and scientists are in fierce competition to build the first undersea robot that can mine the ocean floor.

The explosion of interest in deep sea mining is driven by the demands of our high-tech economy. The deep ocean is the El Dorado that contains metals like nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements, essential for use in cell phones, supercomputers and electric cars. They’re also critical for a green future of solar and wind power.

Dozens of nations, including Russia and China, are racing to get there first. But not the United States. As Bill Whitaker reports, America must sit on the sidelines of this great treasure hunt. Whitaker’s report will be broadcast on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS. Continue Reading →

China leads the race to exploit deep sea minerals: U.N. body (Reuters U.S. – October 23, 2019)

OSLO (Reuters) – China is likely to become the first country in the world to start mining seabed minerals if the international rules for exploitation are approved next year, the head of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) said.

The quest for exploiting seabed minerals, such as polymetallic nodules containing nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese is driven by demand for smart phones and electric car batteries, and the need to diversify supply.

The ISA has already signed 30 contracts with governments, research institutions and commercial entities for exploration phase, with China holding the most, five contracts. Continue Reading →