Archive | Deep Sea Mining

Deep Sea Mining and the Controversial Solwara 1 Project in Papua New Guinea – by Peter Neill (Huff Post – July 11, 2017)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Peter Neill is the Director of the World Ocean Observatory.

It has been some time since we’ve reflected on the issue of deep sea mining — the search for minerals of all types on the ocean floor.

We have seen already how marine resources are being over-exploited — over-fishing by international fisheries being the most egregious example, mining for sand for construction projects and the creation of artificial islands, the exploitation of coral reefs and certain marine species for medical innovations and the next cure for human diseases based on understanding and synthesis of how such organisms function.

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, an organization based in Australia and Canada, has been following the saga of Solwara 1, proposed by Nautilus Inc. for offshore Papua New Guinea that continues to seek financing year after year since 2011. Continue Reading →

Future of diamond mining in the sea – by Magreth Nunuhe (The Southern Times – June 26, 2017)

The Southern Times – Top News For Southern Africa

WALVIS BAY – Having the richest marine diamond deposits in the world, Namibia has set its sights on the ocean as the output of marine diamond production continue to enormously outstrip production of the precious stones on land.

Last year, marine diamond production yielded 1.17 million carats, while land operations generated 403,000 carats, contributing over billions of dollars in revenue. Namibian diamond mining takes place at around 120 to 140 metres below sea level.

In the next 15 years, it is estimated that diamond production on land in Namibia will run out and that 95 percent of diamond production will come from the sea. With approximations that the 3,700 miles squared concession area at sea on the south-west coast of Southern Africa will provide plenty of gemstones for the next 50 years, De Beers Group and Debmarine Namibia inaugurated the world’s most advanced exploration vessel, dubbed the mv SS Nujoma at the coastal town of Walvis Bay on 15 June 2017. Continue Reading →

Opposition will ‘not let up’ to planned seabed mining in Philippines – by Rachel E. Llorca (Asia Pacific Report – June 7, 2017)

Manila – Fishermen from the archipelagic province of Romblon in the Philippines are opposed to planned deep sea mining ventures in the area amid fears it will destroy their livelihoods. One of these fishermen is 55-year-old Agosto Rivera. Fishing is his livelihood, with the fish nets and blue sea of Odiongan Bay –- part of Tablas Island –- his constant companion for 43 years.

With a PHP300 (NZD$8) daily bounty from fishing, and sometimes a PHP5000 (NZD$140) commission when doing deep sea fishing, the sea has been the lifeblood of Rivera’s wife and 10 children.

But Rivera’s livelihood, and that of the estimated 1390 fisher folk in Odiongan Bay, is said to be in danger. Rivera’s fears are echoed by local government leaders and cause-oriented citizens (known locally as Romblomanons) who are wary of prospective deep sea mining operations that the firm Asian Palladium Mineral Resources, Inc. wants to conduct in Romblon’s Tablas Strait. Continue Reading →

Is deep sea mining vital for a greener future – even if it destroys ecosystems? – by Damian Carrington (The Guardian – June 4, 2017)

https://www.theguardian.com/

Mining the deep ocean floor for valuable metals is both inevitable and vital, according to the scientists, engineers and industrialists exploring the world’s newest mining frontier.

The special metals found in rich deposits there are critical for smart electronics and crucial green technologies, such as solar power and electric cars. But as the world’s population rises, demand is now outstripping the production from mines on land for some important elements.

Those leading the global rush to place giant mining machines thousands of metres below the sea surface say the extraordinary richness of the underwater ores mean the environmental impacts will be far lower than on land. But critics say exotic and little-known ecosystems in the deep oceans could be destroyed and must be protected. Continue Reading →

Renewables’ deep-sea mining conundrum – by David Shukman (British Broadcasting Corporation – April 11, 2017)

http://www.bbc.com/

British scientists exploring an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean have discovered a treasure trove of rare minerals. Their investigation of a seamount more than 500km (300 miles) from the Canary Islands has revealed a crust of “astonishingly rich” rock.

Samples brought back to the surface contain the scarce substance tellurium in concentrations 50,000 times higher than in deposits on land. Tellurium is used in a type of advanced solar panel, so the discovery raises a difficult question about whether the push for renewable energy may encourage mining of the seabed.

The rocks also contain what are called rare earth elements that are used in wind turbines and electronics. Known as Tropic Seamount, the mountain stands about 3,000m tall – about the size of one of the middle-ranging Alpine summits – with a large plateau at its top, lying about 1,000m below the ocean surface. Continue Reading →

Many Leagues Under the Sea: Proponents see glistening future in seabed mining, but environmentalists fret – by Megan Van Wyngaardt (MiningWeekly.com – March 24, 2017)

http://www.miningweekly.com/

With the current known mineral deposits on land increasingly being depleted globally, necessitating greater exploration, interest in deep-sea minerals is growing as mining companies look for future sources to exploit.

“The ocean is where future resources exist,” India Council of Scientific and Industrial Research National Institute of Oceanography chief scientist Dr Rahul Sharma said at South Africa’s Council for Geoscience Annual Conference 2017, earlier this month.

Sharma highlighted that minerals from the deep seafloor, such as polymetallic nodules, ferromanganese crusts and hydrothermal sulphides, are potential sources of millions of tonnes of metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese and iron. Continue Reading →

Should we mine the deep ocean? – by Kendra Pierre-Louis (Popular Science – February 21, 2017)

http://www.popsci.com/

Behind the deep sea “gold rush” for increasingly rare minerals

You’ve probably heard of peak oil—the point at which oil production reaches its maximum and begins to decline—but what about peak copper? Copper helps send the electrical signals that make modern electronics like cellphones and tablets work. But there’s growing concern that the prevalence of key minerals like copper is on the decline.

In 2016 the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilisco) released a report that looked at 15 years of copper exploration data. They found that most new copper deposits had been found before 2010. The world hasn’t stopped looking for copper, but we’ve stopped finding it.

And copper isn’t even the mineral that makes companies most nervous—it’s still pretty abundant. Minerals like tantalum, tungsten, and molybdenum are another matter entirely. They’re vital to manufacturing high-tech devices and don’t have ready substitutes. These minerals are often not mined directly but are byproducts of other types of mining. Continue Reading →

China’s deep-sea crewed submersible heads for Indian Ocean mining mission (GB Times – February 7, 2017)

http://gbtimes.com/

China’s deep-sea manned Jiaolong submersible has embarked on a journey to conduct the country’s 38th oceanic scientific mission in preparation for potential mining of the sea bed.

Carried by the advanced expedition ship Xiangyanghong 09, the craft departed from the port city of Qingdao in east Shandong Province on Monday morning.

Jiaolong will be used to explore the polymetallic sulphides in a deep-sea rift in northwest Indian Ocean, with the mission anticipated to pave the way for China’s upcoming application to the International Seabed Authority for mining rights in that area of the seabed. Continue Reading →

Southern Africa: Phosphate Mining Firms Set Sights On Southern Africa’s Sea Floor – by Mark Olalde (AllAfrica.com – Novmeber 18, 2016)

http://allafrica.com/

Johannesburg — A persistent fear of diminishing phosphorus reserves has pushed mining companies to search far and wide for new sources. Companies identified phosphate deposits on the ocean floor and are fighting for mining rights around the world.

Countries in southern Africa have the potential to set an international precedent by allowing the first offshore mining operations. South Africa specifically is one of the first countries on the continent to begin legislating its marine economy to promote sustainable development, and questions surround mining’s place in this new economy.

While the fishing and coastal tourism industries account for slightly more than 1.4 billion dollars of GDP, the potential economic benefits from marine mining remain unclear. Continue Reading →

China’s deep-sea mission to mine the wealth beneath the ocean floor (South China Morning Post – October 6, 2016)

http://www.scmp.com/

Resource-hungry China is stepping up activity in one of the final frontiers of mineral wealth – the remote seabeds lying kilometres beneath the Indian and Pacific oceans.

The world’s largest consumer and importer of minerals and metals is now studying the core technologies of seabed mining in the Indian Ocean, according to Tao Chunhui, one of the country’s leading oceanographers and a researcher at the State Oceanic Administration.

Vast sulphide deposits on the 3,000 metre deep seabed might contribute to China’s metal supplies in the long term as it tried to narrow the technological gap with other maritime powers, said Tao, who was chief scientist of a number of China’s Indian Ocean expeditions. The volcanically formed hydrothermal sulphides on the seabed contain copper, zinc and precious metals including gold and silver. They are formed in hot underground springs seeping through cracks in the seabed. Continue Reading →

Seafloor Miners Poised to Cut into an Invisible Frontier – by Julian Smith (Scientific American – August 11, 2016)

http://www.scientificamerican.com/

The ocean floor teems with mineral treasures, but extracting them could jeopardize an unexplored alien world

People have been clawing valuable minerals like iron and gold out of the ground for millennia. And for much of the stuff that touches our lives today — from the europium, terbium and yttrium that help illuminate the screen you are reading to the copper in the wires that power it— we increasingly depend on elements from the depths of the Earth. But finding new deposits gets harder every year and mines are steadily growing larger, more expensive and more environmentally destructive.

On land, that is. By some estimates the ocean floor has the planet’s largest resources of minerals such as copper, nickel and cobalt. The deep sea also holds gold, silver, platinum and the rare earth elements used in high-tech devices and renewable-energy technology including iPhone displays, solar panels and magnets used in hybrid cars.

Underwater deposits often have much higher grades of ore than those on land, meaning they contain a higher percentage of the desired minerals—in some cases by an order of magnitude or more. The trick is getting the stuff to the surface in a cost-effective way. Continue Reading →

Searching Sea for Metal Is Japan’s Answer to Land That Has None – by Masumi Suga and Ichiro Suzuki (Bloomberg News – August 8, 2016)

http://www.bloomberg.com/

As deep as 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) under water and 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) from Tokyo, work has begun on the new hunting ground for metals in Japan, a country so devoid of natural resources that most of what it needs has to be imported.

As the island nation depleted most of its land-based minerals in the economic boom that followed World War II, scientists have identified swathes of the sea floor littered with nuggets containing everything from copper to gold left over from the volcanic activity that created the archipelago millions of years ago. The trick is extracting them at a profit, something a government consortium will start testing next year.

Ocean mining isn’t new — Japan began exploring in the 1970s. But new technologies make it easier for companies like Canada’s Nautilus Minerals Inc. to collect mineral-rich rock from the sea. With more than 50 million metric tons of ore estimated in Japanese waters, the government wants to revive home-grown supply and ease dependence on imports. When Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympic Games, bullion for gold medals may come from the deep ocean. Continue Reading →

Only India, South Korea have active technology for deep sea mining (The Hans India.com – July 19, 2016)

http://www.thehansindia.com/

New Delhi:The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague on the South China Sea dispute in favour of the Philippines may have come as a setback for China but it will not stop Beijing from continuing with its quest for maritime hegemony in the region.

“The reaction of China on the court’s ruling was on expected lines,” Prashant Kumar Singh, Associate Fellow in the East Asia Centre of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), told IANS.

“In the immediate term, it might adopt aggressive posturing and show a defiant face to other claimants to the dispute and also to the US which is a security provider for many of the claimants, including the Philippines,” he said. Continue Reading →

The Ocean Could Be the New Gold Rush – by Brian Clark Howard (National Geographic – July 13, 2016)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/

As the future of seafloor mining is debated this week, here are five things you need to know about the risks and rewards of extracting precious metals and minerals from the ocean.

The bottom of the world’s ocean contains vast supplies of precious metals and other resources, including gold, diamonds, and cobalt. Now, as the first deep-sea mining project ramps up, nations are trying to hammer out guidelines to ensure this new “gold rush” doesn’t wreck the oceans.

People have dreamed of harvesting riches from the seafloor for decades. A project off Papua New Guinea could begin as early as 2018, serving as a test case for an industry that could be highly lucrative. If it proves successful, it could kick off a boom of deep-sea mining around the world.

In response, representatives of many nations, the mining industry, and environmental groups are meeting this week in Kingston, Jamaica, at an annual session of the International Seabed Authority. Continue Reading →

[India mining] ‘Ready for next great game: Mining minerals from seas’ (Times of India – January 13, 2016)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

Maor nations are looking to the oceans for mineral and fuel reserves as reserves on land deplete fast. The recent discovery by ONGC of a large reserve of gas hydrates -a potential gamechanger in fossil fuels -off Andhra Pradesh has shown that the Indian exclusive economic zone may well be able to secure the nation’s energy and other needs, but the technology for commercially exploiting these reserves is still several nautical miles away.

In a chat with Meera Vankipuram, Satheesh C Shenoi, director of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, and also director (additional charge), National Institute of Ocean Technolog y (NIOT), Chennai, explains that the process of analysing data on mineral deposits in the Indian ocean has begun.

Does India have the technology and industrial base to extract and use reserves like the gas hydrates?

Right now, we don’t have the technology to produce gas from hydrates. Continue Reading →