One Step Closer to Deep Sea Mining

Written by on April 30, 2014 in Other News

Large-scale deep sea mining is one step closer to reality.

A photo of life on the seafloor. Photo credit: Deep East 2001, NOAA/OER.

A photo of life on the seafloor. Photo credit: Deep East 2001, NOAA/OER.

Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian mining company, has finalized an agreement with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to begin mining in the deep sea for ores of copper, gold, and other valuable metals.

Under the new agreement, which was welcomed by the International Seabed Authority, PNG will contribute $120 million towards the cost of operation in exchange for a 15 percent stake in the mine. Mining could begin within five years.

Nautilus Minerals has been interested in opening a mine in this area since the 1990s, but hasn’t been able to reach an agreement with the PNG government until now.

“It’s a taken a long time but everybody is very happy,” chief executive of Nautilus Minerals, Mike Johnston told BBC news.

At a depth of 1500 meters, covering about 10 football fields, the mine (Solwara-1) will be excavated by a fleet of robotic machines controlled by a ship at the surface.

According to Nautilus, the mine will have minimal environmental impacts, but this doesn’t make those who oppose deep sea mining feel any better.

Many scientists and environmentalists are concerned about how little we know about the deep sea. There’s a lack of data regarding the extent of the impact that deep-sea mining will have on marine live. Concerns range from the plumes of sediment stirred up by collecting nodules, to the ability of the deep sea to recover from mining operations.

Deep-sea coral.

Deep-sea coral. Photo credit: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration.

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Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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