More than a million square miles of the deep sea’s floor have remained untouched for millennia. But that is changing rapidly. Industry and alternative energy solutions drive the rising demands for ocean minerals. Seabed mining also offers an attractive solution as deforestation criticisms rise and terrestrial supplies decline.
But seabed mining isn’t without its own set of risks. There is very little known about the ocean floor. When the search for ocean minerals broadens, there will be a disruption among exotic creatures and unusual habitats. It will impact coastal regions through ecosystem changes. How can a healthy balance be struck, one that will allow access these valuable ocean minerals without creating irreversible harm? This is the most pressing question as seabed mining activities escalate.
Seabed Mining Today and the Demand for Ocean Minerals
For decades, there has been a recognition of the presence of precious ocean minerals. But only in the last few years have deep sea activities markedly advanced. In part, this has resulted from advances in technology. Remote-operated vehicles, robotics, and communication technology are among the most notable advances facilitating these practices. But more so, there is a heightened demand for ocean minerals.
Alternative energy solutions have triggered a major source of demand for ocean chemical. For example, electric vehicles require batteries that utilize lithium. Hybrid cars require ample amounts of lead. Platinum, as well, is utilized by hydrogen-powered vehicles. As these and other alternative energy forms increase in use, land-based resources will naturally decline. And with complaints about the terrestrial ecosystem disruption that mining causes, industries will find seabed mining less cumbersome.
The impact of deep sea mining is expected to be massive.