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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Mining at deep sea - should the fishing industry be worried?

The global demand for the minerals needed to sustain much of the equipment we take for granted like mobile phones and cameras is seeing countries look to the oceans of the planet as land based supplies begin to dwindle. China presently supplies 90% of some key minerals, like those that have allowed the creation of batteries for phones - as a commodity this gives the country huge bargaining power as business and social use makes mobile technology almost indispensable in a modern world.

Here is an extract from a recent article from Down to Earth:

The vast repository of minerals, including the precious cobalt, zinc, manganese and rare earth materials that are needed for smart phones, laptops and hybrid cars, are present in three forms of ore—polymetallic manganese nodules that remain strewn across the ocean floor; cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts that cover the seamounts; and massive polymetallic sulphide deposits around hydrothermal vents (see map). These vents are cracks in volcanic areas of the ocean floor through which seeps iron- and sulphur-rich magma. As these minerals meet cold bottom water, they precipitate, creating high-grade deposits. Typically, an ore from seabed deposit is seven times enriched with minerals than that mined from land. This beguiles governments who are fast running out of reserves on land.
Countries are delving deeper into the ocean to explore its mineral wealth. The deposits on the ocean floor are enormous and the ecology of this largest habitat on earth, unexplored. The high seas are also global common property that demand an equitable distribution of their riches. How will deep sea mining impact the ecology and shape the mechanism to share common resources? 
Read the full story here from a report by Richard Mahapatra and Anupam Chakravartty