Monday, July 09, 2012

Why not just mine the oceans?

The battle in Arizona over developing copper mines, often elicits demands that the mining be done elsewhere, because Arizona is too environmentally fragile.  In today's New York Times, they look at mineral exploration in the Pacific Ocean that proposed to do just that:  

"Today, increasingly, mines on land lack rich supplies of copper, a staple of modern life found in everything from pipes to computers. Many commercial ores have concentrations of only a half a percent. But seabed explorers have found purities of 10 percent and higher — turning the obscure deposits into potential bonanzas."
But they report that the opposition appears to be as strong as that in our own backyard:

"Environmentalists have expressed growing alarm, saying too little research has been done on the risks of seabed mining. The industry has responded with studies, reassurance and upbeat conferences."
[Right, report issued by group opposed to ocean mining.  Credit, Deep Sea Mining Campaign]


  1. Anonymous6:53 AM

    Let me see....cant log for lumber.
    Cant mine on land.
    cant mine underground.
    cant use coal or uranium.
    cant frack for anything.
    When are we going to kick all these idiots in the pants and turn off there light and let THEM freeze in the dark or roast in the heat.
    They all make me sick.

  2. All mining operations are destructive and toxic to some degree -- but we need the minerals. So you have to weigh the benefits against the costs. I think undersea mining should be explored. The effects of this sort of mining would be both negative and positive. The mineral deposits are a lot more concentrated, and the volcanic activity is continually depositing new metals. But life forms from particular sites could end up spreading to new sites if they hitch a ride on the equipment, with unexpected consequences, and we still don't know what effect the mining will have on fisheries. People who make a living from the sea may have serious and legitimate objections. We'll have to wait and see what the first mining sites produce. As a geology student, I'm excited by the prospect. As an environmentalist, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.