Potential mineral wealth in seabed exceeds existing land deposits
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Coral reefs, mangroves, and estuaries are now considered "among the most highly diverse, integrated and productive of the earth's ecosystems."19 An estimated 175 billion dry metric tons of minable manganese nodules, containing as many as 30 elements, including manganese, nickel, copper, and cobalt, cover about 15 percent of the deep seabed.20 If correct, these reserves far exceed known land deposits.21 Yet initial estimates tended to overestimate not the mineral wealth, nor necessarily the ability of technology to mine it, but the economic feasibility of such endeavors. Mining engineer John Mero predicted in 1965 that by 1985 operations would be processing 50 million tons of nodules annually.22 However, those corporations that had seabed mining technology also had substantial invested interest in the continuing profitability of land-based minerals. Thus, mining of the seabed has not yet become a growth industry. Nevertheless, this vast potential wealth, located on the 70 percent of the earth's surface covered by the oceans,23 is the impetus for both the attempt to privatize the ocean and the resistance to such an enclosure.
"International Law of the Sea/Seed: Public Domain versus Private Commodity
." Natural Resources Journal
. Vol. 44, No. 3 (Summer 2004): 841-866. [ More (6 quotes) ]
If the U.S. does not ratify UNCLOS, it risks losing the remaining three possible seabed mining sites, with billions in the strategic minerals manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel at stake. A single seabed mining operation would spur the economy with total capital purchases of close to one and a half billion dollars and would stimulate robust job creation.