Besides automation, the next big challenge faced by the mining industry is deep sea mining, that enigmatic activity. In the sea we are expecting to find a huge group of minerals like iron, copper, nickel, manganese, cobalt, gold and rare earths.
However, “while some nations are sovereign to regulate seabed mining within their economic exclusive zones, the access to resources in the seabed and ocean floor beyond these national jurisdiction waters, referred in the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as ‘the Area’, is organized and controlled by the autonomous international organization called International Seabed Authority, initially established under UNCLOS”, writes Carlos Duarte, University of Western Australia, in a recent article published by the website SBS.
So far, this authority has established 17 contracts with 15 years of duration “for exploration of polymetallic nodules and polymetallic sulphides in the deep seabed” with 13 contractors. Eleven of these contracts regard the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone, in the Pacific, and the other two are relative to the South West Indian Ridge and the Mid Atlantic Ridge.
“Russia, China, Korea, Germany and and France are the nations involved in most of these contracts”, adds Carlos Duarte, but “negotiations are under way between the Cook Islands and companies in the United Kingdom, China, Korea, Japan and Norway towards granting the first contracts of exploration of the area and within just a year.
So what can we learn from these facts? “That we may soon face an underwater gold rush“, Duarte writes in the article. Far from the idea of scientific fiction that most people might have, “the technology for deep-sea mining is not something of the future but it is largely existing”, so you can expect deep sea mining to arrive soon in an ocean near you. The only problem remaining now is dealing with the pollution caused by this activity.
We recently published an article that looking at the very tools you would need to find items underwater. One of the biggest things to get right is finding the very best metal detector for underwater and you will be glad to know that we completed our research in 2021 so be sure to check that out if you are interested in searching for treasure in the deep.