As the world’s population scales to ever-greater heights, a growing demand for resources is driving humans to new lows.
In the next few years, commercial mining on the deep ocean floor could become a real possibility. But with several permits already issued, a new report suggests the mining industry is racing to the bottom in more ways than one.
Researchers at the University of Exeter and Greenpeace are now warning that a deep sea “gold rush” for minerals and metals could wind up causing irreversible damage to what are already fragile ocean ecosystems.
“Many marine scientists are concerned that, once the first commercial contract for mining is issued, there will be no going back,” says co-author Kathryn Miller, a researcher at Greenpeace International.
“Before that happens, we should be absolutely certain that we have looked carefully at all the other options for a more sustainable future.”
The deep ocean, which includes anything at depths below 3,000 metres, covers nearly 50 percent of Earth’s surface, and even though only a fraction of this area has been explored, these mysterious depths are full of untapped treasures.
Somewhere out there, leagues beneath the sea, amid a world teeming with countless kinds of marine life, lie unplumbed riches of manganese, sulphide, phosphorite, and, yes, even diamonds.
It’s too much for the mining industry to ignore. And several companies, like Nautilus Minerals and Diamond Fields International, suggest that digging up these materials will ensure a steady supply of resources for decades to come.