July 9, 2022

The Environmental Effects of Sea-bed Mining

As of today, there is no commercial sea-bed mining project since the technology is not still mature. However, concerns have arisen by environmentalist regarding the adverse effects of these projects on the life of marine eco-system. It is well known that digging the surface and extracting minerals could disrupt the natural cycle of life balance between all creatures which eventually could lead to extinction of some types of habitats and wildlife. Since there is really not much information and understanding on the life and ecosystems on the ocean floors, the adverse risks of sea-bed mining activities on environment are much higher than the regular mining projects.

Mining activities in sea and ocean may introduce several types of pollutions including noise, heavy metals, and poisonous chemicals, which could endanger fishery and species not only in the area and its vicinity but also all the way to the shores and human inhabitants.

Sea-bed mining involves digging up the layers of sedimentary rocks on the bottom of the seas and exposing hydrothermal vents to get to gold, copper, and other precious and valuable metals and minerals. This causes flows of slurries and wastes to get through the pipes and ships and eventually discarded to the sea. All these streams may contain hazardous heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic which eventually affect the health of life and specifically microorganisms on the ocean and sea floor.

Image Credit and Copyright: Mongabay

Another concern regarding the underwater mining is the unknown effects of these activities on the ocean current and the movement of natural events between seas and waters across the planet.

One key solution to all these problems with ocean mining would be related to the advancement of technologies and equipment used for exploration and extraction activities. As it seems inevitable to move against the current strong support for underwater mining in the industry and government sectors across the globe, the focus should be on investments in advancing the technologies and also in preserving the marine ecosystems.

In addition, We need standard regulations and methods to be able to monitor and control the adverse effects of these projects and implement preventive actions whenever it is necessary.

In other words, we need to be proactive instead of being reactive.

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