Polymetallic nodules coat fields of the ocean floor and are rich in critical minerals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles but marine and climate scientists warn that there is not enough data yet to determine if this would be the greener option.
African countries, many of which are heavily reliant on mining, have criticised a move by the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru to fast-track international negotiations over deep-sea mining, an industry that could hurt their economies.
Canadian startup DeepGreen is touting seabed mining as a green alternative to land-based mineral extraction but scientists warn that seabed mining could result in environmental damages “irreversible on multi-generational timescales.”
The tiny Pacific nation of Nauru has created shockwaves by demanding that the rules for deep sea mining are agreed in the next two years. Environmental groups warn that this will lead to a destructive rush on the mineral-rich seabed "nodules" that are sought by the mining companies.
In its initial 'National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries', the U.S. Department of Energy has outlined plans to try and move lithium battery production away from reliance on problematic source of nickel and cobalt, a move that would impact the market for deep seabed mining.
The deep oceans, once thought to be lifeless, are home to many extraordinary creatures. But now the deep seabed mining boom threatens their – and our – existence by imperiling the ecosystems that are critical for regulating the global climate.