Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















WATER WORLD
Subsea mining moves closer to shore
by Staff Writers
Kiel, Germany (SPX) Feb 10, 2017


Mineral resources in the ocean. Red: Massiv sulfides, yellow: cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts , dark-blue: manganese nodules. Black: Land-based resources (non-fossil energy) within 50 km distance from the coast. Light blue: Exclusive Economic Zone. Image courtesy GEOMAR.

The demand for raw materials is rising continuously, forcing mining companies to use lower-grade ores and to explore at greater depths. This could lead to a decline in production in the coming decades.

Many industrialized economies also depend on imports of metals for their high-tech industries. Some of these metals occur in ore deposits that are found only in a few countries. In order to ensure a supply of these so-called critical metals, deep-sea deposits have been considered as possible alternatives for some time.

Despite all concerns about the sensitivity of the marine environment and the ecosystems, the prospect of deep-sea mining is fast approaching. For example, the first exploration licenses for manganese nodules in the central Pacific Ocean were already issued in 2001 by the International Seabed Authority and are now about to expire, opening the door to exploitation.

In other parts of the oceans massive sulphides formed by hot vents (so-called black smokers) and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts formed on rocky seafloor are being examined for future production.

However, the continental shelf close to the coasts, which has so far mainly been explored for oil and gas deposits, could also become an area of interest for ore deposits. In a Nature Geoscience, a group of marine researchers from Kiel, Germany consider the possibility of undersea mining at the ocean margins.

"The time period from the discovery to the exploitation of mineral resources is getting longer", explains Prof. Dr. Mark Hannington, Head of the Group for Marine Mineral Resources at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel. "In addition, only a handful of all known deep-sea resources may ever be commercially used," Hannington continues.

The Kiel researchers, on the other hand, believe that some mineral deposits in the continental shelf areas could be significantly more promising. The technological challenges could be much less daunting and the geological conditions present promising opportunities to discover interesting commercial deposits that are not present in the deep-sea.

An area of continental crust roughly equivalent to one third of the global landmass lies submerged beneath the shelf. The structure and composition of these areas are very similar to the continents, suggesting that resources found on land are available here as well.

The evidence is that there are many resources already being mined on land in the coastal regions. An impressive example is the discovery in 2015 of a giant gold deposit under the Yellow Sea near the largest gold deposits in China.

"Almost all types of metal that are in demand today are found in coastal areas, in total more than 1,700 ore deposits within a distance of less than 50 km from the coast", explains co-author Dr. Sven Petersen from GEOMAR.

The Kiel geologists predict the occurrence of further large deposits in different shelf regions, hidden below the seafloor. This could include gold deposits off the coast of West Africa, nickel deposits under the Arctic Ocean, and lead-zinc deposits in the Gulf of Mexico or the Mediterranean. "The list of possible occurrences is long and could change our view of the worldwide offshore mineral resources", Hannington says.

According to the GEOMAR scientists, a further advantage of subsea mineral deposits under the shelf is that mining could be performed in a more environmentally friendly way by means of tunnels from land or from artificial islands or platforms. Fewer legal issues would be expected as well, since the deposits in coastal regions are already within declared exclusive economic zones.

"Subsea coastal resources could offer a comparatively low-risk option to help meet increasing demands on metallic and mineral raw materials", Prof. Hannington concludes.

Hannington, M., S. Petersen, and A. Kratschell, 2017: Subsea mining moves closer to shore. Nature Geoscience (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2897


Comment on this article using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

.


Related Links
Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
WATER WORLD
RE2 Robotics to further develop EOD underwater manipulator system
Pittsburgh (UPI) Feb 8, 2017
RE2 Robotics is to develop an inflatable Underwater Dual Manipulator system for the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research. The award for underwater manipulator arms comes under a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research award, the company said, but no details as to its monetary value were given. The system to be developed is for integration onto unmanned underwater vehicles for ... read more


WATER WORLD
Bringing satellites to users can improve public health and safety

Free hairdos to boost confidence of displaced Iraqi women

'Scorpion' robot mission inside Fukushima reactor aborted

Myanmar jade mine landslide kills 9: official

WATER WORLD
Most stretchable elastomer for 3-D printing

After 15 years, SABER on TIMED Still Breaks Ground from Space

ANU scientists make new high-tech liquid materials

Curtiss-Wright offers COTS Module for measuring microgravity acceleration

WATER WORLD
Subsea mining moves closer to shore

Ethiopia dam causes Kenya water shortage: rights group

10 Italian execs found guilty over polluted water supply

Seagrass on decline, jeopardizing human, coral health: study

WATER WORLD
New study explains decade of glacial growth in New Zealand

How an Ice Age paradox could inform sea level rise predictions

Sentinels warn of dangerous ice crack

Sea ice at poles hit record low for January

WATER WORLD
Stanford scientists measure African crop yields from space

Nicaragua focuses on climate-change resistant coffee

Gluten-free diet may increase risk of arsenic, mercury exposure

Study rewrites the history of corn in corn country

WATER WORLD
Quake-prone Pacific nations hold joint tsunami drills

Italy asks EU aid as cost of quakes hits 23 bn euros

Cyclone bears down on Mozambique coast

Ventura fault could cause stronger shaking

WATER WORLD
Interim authorities to begin work in Mali's north

UN demands armed groups stop fighting in C. Africa

S. Sudan army says general who quit was 'deeply' corrupt

Ivory Coast arrests six journalists over mutiny 'false information'

WATER WORLD
Study links working remotely to more stress, insomnia

Study: The human brain always has a backup plan

Chimpanzee feet allow scientists a new grasp on human foot evolution

Humans subconsciously perceive words as 'round' or 'sharp'




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement