July 3, 2022
What is Ocean/Sea-Bed Mining?
To sustain the natural resources for future generation, a new era of exploration and mining adventures on the sea and ocean floor has started. Sea-Bed mining or Ocean mining is the process of exploration and extraction of minerals and metals from the the bottom of the seas and oceans.
It is well recognized that sea beds hold great resources of critical minerals and valuable commodities such as rare earth elements. cobalt, lithium, gold, copper, nickel and other metals and minerals vital to the technological advancement of our current lifestyle. An example is the 1.7 million square miles of an area on the bottom of Pacific Ocean stretched from Mexico to Hawaii where there are trillions of dollars worth of valuable metals and minerals.
As of today, there is no commercial sea-bed mining project since the technology is not still mature. However, companies have already started the exploration and sampling activities in some areas where there is potential resources of critical minerals including rare earth minerals and some other valuables commodities. These activities need the integration of several technologies and high-tech facilities which would make it possible to access the floor of sea and ocean.
The main advantage of reaching to the bottom of oceans is to expand the economic resources of critical minerals and precious metals which are vital to the US national security and economic sustainability. Currently, the US is heavily dependent on foreign countries including China and Russia to import some of the minerals and metals that are critical to the defense and high-tech sectors of the country. Therefore, we need to diversify our resources and eventually stop importing these commodities.
Since the effect of mining activities on the ocean floor is not yet well understood, there are many concerns about the adverse effects of these projects on the ecosystems and the life of humans connected to oceans and seas. One main concern is the spread of heavy metals and toxic elements in water as a result of the mining processes. Thus, the possibility of hamming our planet is inevitable if we don’t focus and invest in technologies that mitigate these negative effects.