Experts Discuss Prospects of Deep Seabed Mining Industry

The Oceans Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), together with the Earth Sciences and Resources Board, discussed current developments and prospects for deep sea mining at a meeting held in Washington earlier this month.

Manganese nodules, cobalt crusts or massive sulphides: the deep sea contains different raw materials that are largely undiscovered and untouched. What is the resource potential of these materials? Will they be used in the near future? What environmental risks would arise from deep sea mining? These and other questions were discussed recently by a panel of experts at NAS.

Under the title “Deep Seabed Mining: Prospects and Perspectives on an Emerging Industry” the panelists, included the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), Michael Lodge, Mark Hannington, Head of Mineral Resources at GEOMAR, Jennifer Warren of Lockheed-Martin and UK Seabed Resources, Cindy Van Dover from Duke University, and Conn Nugent of the Pew Charitable Trust.

ISA Secretary General, Michael Lodge, noted that “All the indications are that we are at a decisive point in the long history of attempts to mine the deep seabed. We are on the threshold of a new industry. But to go beyond this point requires tremendous financial investment and involves considerable risk.”

“The joint meeting of several boards of the NAS to consider these developments signals a milestone in the discussion about deep-sea mining,” said Prof. Dr. Mark Hannington from GEOMAR, member of the expert group.

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