About mining metals under the ocean
About mining metals under the ocean
As a trusted metals supplier we know exactly how important the products we sell are to the world we all live in. The built environment, transport across the planet itself and beyond, communications, the goods we buy on an everyday basis, metals are crucial in so many ways. But at the same time we’re facing a mass extinction of our fellow creatures, profound global problems around chemical pollution, and a result need to re-use, recycle, and re-purpose every scrap of metal we can.
Against this landscape some want to get busy with deep sea mining, unleashing tech like deep sea mining robots to extract the stuff humanity needs. On the other hand governments and campaign groups are preparing for a war against deep sea mining plans, with calls for a global moratorium to stop it in its tracks. And some experts say we only have a couple of years max to stop deep ocean mining from going ahead.
Here’s what an article from late 2021 in New Scientist magazine says about it.
Deep sea mining called a ‘dystopian nightmare’
It seemed like a good idea fifty years ago, when it was first dreamed up. But mining the ocean beds for deposits of copper, zinc, nickel, gold, silver, and phosphorus turns out to be a very bad idea thanks to the newly-discovered ‘diverse, interconnected ecosystems at the bottom of the ocean’ that will be destroyed by mining. If we go ahead we risk ‘upsetting the health and functioning of our planet’ even more than we have already.
In a time when climate change, plastic pollution, air pollution, and chemical pollution are threatening the future of the human race, the last thing we need is to disrupt our planet’s delicate systems any more than we already have.
Who is planning deep sea mining?
So far the UK, France, Belgium, Russia, China, Japan and Jamaica have all expressed an interest in bringing metals up from our sea beds and ocean floors. These metals occur in easily-mineable coal-sized nodules on the floor of a huge plain called theClarion Clipperton Zone, a mighty 5000m under the Pacific. Worse still, the Pacific island state of Nauru has declared an interest in applying for a licence for its own sea bed mining contractor, a subsidiary of Canadian-owned The Metals Company. If things go as planned the International Seabed Authority will ‘provisionally approve’ the new nodule mine within two years, and that could open the floodgates to more. There are currently no environmental standards in place for a move like this, they’re at the discussion stage.
What kind of environmental disasters will we see?
Nodule mines are predicted to ‘wipe out’ unique species, choking them with sediment plumes and polluting the water vast distances away thanks to deep and powerful currents. If more nodule mines go ahead thanks to the precedent set by the first one, it will affect thousands of square kilometres of seabed every year and the damage will continue to develop for decades, potentially mining giant underwater mountains and hydrothermal vents as well as ocean floors.
Are you not really bothered about the environment?
Instant destruction is one thing, but there could be much wider issues at stake. Deep sea mining could disrupt climate regulation, damage nutrient cycling, and be disastrous for the long-term storage of carbon our seas and oceans provide.
Scientists call for a global moratorium on sea mining
Hundreds of scientists and policy experts are calling for a global moratorium, a pause on mining the seas until we understand the full impacts. They insist it must happen within two years. The UN General Assembly has already set a handy precedent with a non-binding resolution on high seas drift netting, leading to a moratorium on this damaging way of fishing. If they did the same for seabed mining moratorium – which also includes a ‘wider mining strategy’ to responsibly meet demand from ‘green’ tech, it would at least provide the world with a breathing space.
Right now support for a moratorium is growing fast, supported by the public, businesses, the fishing sector and financial giants. Last June the EU strengthened its backing, asking the European Commission and EU member states to join in. Across the world, conversations are taking place.
We love metals, but…
Obviously metals are our world. But deep seabed mining is too potentially damaging to dive into without finding out about the risks, and trying to do something sensible about them. In the meantime if you need metals we have what you need at a price you’ll like. Walk this way for 6082 aluminium flat bar metric and aluminium 6061 plate, aluminium 7075t6, brass square bar en12165 and much more in the aluminium alloys and brass range. Plus loads of steel and cast iron. See you soon.
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