Deep Sea Mining

Continuing the discussion from Offshore Crisis, the 2020… version:

There’s an ecological impact we know little about that need to be addressed before going hog wild.

“It may be that [DSM] can be done in a way that doesn’t cause species extinctions or major loss of ecosystem services, although we still don’t know enough to be able to say that.”

There is a a short video below about what environmentalists think of seabed mining.

The guy makes a good point, if we can’t mine for raw materials how do environmentalists expect all the equipment to be made to produce and store green energy?

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Supreme Catch 22.

what on earth resides on the bottom of the ocean 4000m down that is more important than the future of the planet 4000m above? Sorry but worms, sponges, jellies, etc. must take a backseat to the need for humans to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

I believe that humans are contributing to global warming however I have been of the belief that our need for continuing to use fossil fuels over rides the increase in temperatures although doing as much as we can to reduce the use of fossil fuels can’t hurt and that means batteries (of course what produces the current to charge those batteries needs to become carbon net zero if this is to have any impact) and batteries mean cobalt, nickel, manganese, lithium, and on and on and on.

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It’s more than the potential for the loss of some worms and sponges. If you read the article there’s an element of unknown unknown that could potentially affect climate. I have no way of knowing if those concerns are valid or not but it’s probably a good idea to look into it before setting off a chain reaction of ecological disasters.

except how will humans ever know how the deep seafloor effects the planet above and we are trading a disaster we know for one which we don’t know and is highly unlikely. I mean seriously, how could what is changes 4000m down on the bottom of the ocean really effect the world on the surface? If we all agree that the use of fossil fuels is hurting the planet and that we need to reduce their use which means millions and millions of high tech batteries, then we have to find the means to build those batteries in the quantity and quality required. Finding the minerals to manufacture them on the surface is limited and has already shown that it has its own detrimental environmental and human effects. If all of them can be acquired on the seafloor in the amount needed, I say let’s go and hopefully US mariners won’t be shut out and left in the cold as a massive new maritime industry develops.


I’m all for it; the environmental concerns may be overblown but we shouldn’t automatically ignore the possible consequences.

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What if human hubris gets in the way. We tend to think we know better when it comes to Mother Nature.

What if they don’t get it quite right and end up liberating 15 to 40 percent of the earths carbon as a byproduct of their mining efforts.


That is why NDP is conducting detailed survey of the Mohn Ridge in the Norwegian Sea BEFORE issuing any permit to perform actual mining there?:

read the 2nd article…methane hydrates don’t exist below 3000m and the nodules being discussed are at 4000m

Think I would go with c.captain on this one. Guy knows his shit.

Not all mining will be at those depths. At least one player is looking elsewhere.

Neptune Minerals is focusing its efforts at SMS sites at the more prospective convergent plate margin sites which are dominant in the “West Pacific Ring of Fire” in water depths between approximately 500 and 2500 meters.

Granted their target may not be nodules per se but the sulfide rich deposits.

I’m not against the concept and I would love to see some stacked units converted. Been watching this Neptune thing for a long time and their info seems to have changed from active mining to a role further “upstream” now mentioning the sale of their tenements as a revenue approach.

But my point was in development of these resources we as a species might want to consider the unintended consequences. Perhaps merely saying “what could go wrong” during ramp up may not be the best risk assessment strategy. Serious people Have been studying this for years and the Internet has loads of info about methods, legal aspects and environmental aspects. I don’t think we are likely to get the last word on this from a gCaptain thread where standard procedure for some seems to be trot out the evil environmentalist labels at the drop of a hat. There’s tons of info available.

It’s not a matter of “what if” it’s when. Look what hubris has done to the nuclear power industry.

Search using the terms "deep sea mining and “sediment plumes”

Of particular importance for the water column is the discharge of the tailings from dewatering of the ore, which will introduce sediment and dissolved metals over potentially large areas. A single polymetallic-nodule mining operation is estimated to discharge 50,000 meters-cubed of sediment, broken mineral fines, and seawater per day (∼8 kilograms per meter-cubed solids) and a hydrothermal vent operation could discharge 22,000 to 38,000 meters-cubed per day (10, 12). These discharges could run continuously for up to 30 years, producing 500,000,000 meters-cubed of discharge over the lifetime of one operation.

Very fine clay sediments could stay in suspension for several years, and along with dissolved metals they could be carried by ocean currents for hundreds of kilometers (11), dispersing far beyond the mining zone in concentrations that are still to be determined. There is currently no regulation or guidance on the depth or manner in which tailings can be discharged into the environment. Given the risk of ecological harm, the need to consider the potential adverse effects from seabed mining to midwater ecosystems and services, and our state of knowledge in evaluating these risks, is critical.

In the search for rare substances, deep space mining may play a role in the not too distant future without the worries about the effects of deep sea mining on the earth’s ecology.

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another thread which had great potential for discussion is now dead and might as well be buried…

I really do hate it here…what a pathetic waste.

Did I startle you? So sorry…

And yet you keep coming back over and over again. Have you given any thought to adopting a cat?

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Let’s see if it doesn’t end up like that Planetary Resources deal that got in the news a lot and shriveled like a week old balloon. Lots of hype.

And then Godzilla happens.

gonna bring this thread back to life even though it will likely do no good…but think of putting all those idle drillships back to work? think of all the jobs?

DeepGreen Finds More Deep-Sea Mining Potential in Clipperton Zone


Polymetallic nodules recovered in a 2018 survey of the Clipperton Zone (Image courtesy AMC / NORI)

By The Maritime Executive 01-28-2021 06:41:00

A new subsea survey completed by Canadian deep sea mining company DeepGreen Resources found better-than-expected ore deposits in the Pacific’s Clipperton Zone. The polymetallic nodules found in abundance on the seabed in this region contain relatively high concentrations of manganese, cobalt, nickel and copper, without hazardous levels of cadmium or mercury.

DeepGreen holds exploration licenses for four sections of the Clipperton Zone, and it wants to develop the resource base to supply the growing lithium-ion battery market. Li-ion batteries require high quantities of nickel, and demand for the metal is expected to skyrocket as electric vehicles take off in the years ahead. The company believes that Clipperton Zone lease areas (including adjacent leases held by government entities) contain a resource base large enough to supply the batteries for one billion EVs.

DeepGreen’s long-term production plans include an off-shore collection system for the nodules coupled with an on-shore processing plant, which would use standard mining-industry systems to produce copper metal, nickel sulphate and cobalt sulphate. These would be marketed for lithium ion battery cathode feedstock, along with a larger stream of manganese feedstocks commonly used for steel production.

The 1-5 centimeter nodules form by the incremental deposition of iron and manganese hydroxides, and each one takes millions of years to grow. They require specific conditions for formation, and the highest concentrations have been found on abyssal plains between 4,000 and 6,000 meters below the surface. In some areas of the Clipperton Zone, the nodules carpet more than 50 percent of the seabed surface area, with densities exceeding 15 kilos of ore per square meter.

The nodules in DeepGreen’s survey area contain about 1.4 percent nickel, 1.1 percent copper, 0.3 percent cobalt and 32 percent manganese, according to its latest assay results. The best terrestrial ores in the same categories are about 1.8-3.0 percent nickel, 4 percent copper and 44 percent manganese. On land, cobalt is usually recovered as a byproduct during the refining of nickel and copper ores, and it is found in similarly low concentrations.

According to a recent MIT study, polymetallic nodule recovery could be profitable despite the challenges of geographically remote, ultra-deep operations. Returns could be measured in the billions. However, like other forms of deep-sea mining, the environmental impact is unknown and potentially significant. The most common proposed extraction method would use a tracked robotic machine to vacuum up the nodules, disturbing the seabed and disrupting habitat.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has jurisdiction for licensing and environmental regulation of deep-sea mining, and environmental advocates have called for it to strengthen its rules and require more study before allowing production to move forward. (Greenpeace has called for a complete moratorium, a new treaty and a full overhaul of the ISA.) The ISA was set to approve a new rule set last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic altered its plans, and it now expects to finalize regulations in 2021.