New depths: where is the value in mining the deep sea?

There are vast mineral riches lying on the ocean floor that could help to power the energy transition, but is the environmental cost of extracting them worth the risk?

There are potentially billions of dollars worth of precious metals lying on the ocean floor, but what is the true cost of mining them?

Polymetallic nodules rich with Copper, Nickel and Manganese strewn across the ocean bed could play an important role in powering the energy transition, as these metals are used in solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicle batteries.

But retrieving these metals could come with grave consequences. Scientists warn that mining the sea floor could destroy unknown habitats, create pollution in areas that have been undisturbed for millennia, and unsettle the oxygen-providing properties of the ocean.

Time is running out to protect a natural habitat about which scientists know less than the surface of the moon. The United Nations-convened International Seabed Authority is now working on regulations that could allow the commercial extraction of deep-sea minerals to begin in two years.

Watch this video to understand more about what’s at stake from mining the sea floor.

The video is part of Eco-Business’s ‘Blue recovery’ series on ocean conservation

Production by Philip Amiote, Elizabeth Tay and Robin Hicks

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