Deep sea mining pilot in the Pacific

  • A Canadian firm will be responsible for the first deep sea mining operation off the shores of Papua New Guinea. The Papua New Guinea Government have granted Nautilis Minerals a 20 year licence and other mining companies are waiting in the wings to see how the venture goes before launching into deep sea mining themselves.
  • The ocean environment is a relatively new frontier in terms of mineral extraction and the environmental concerns are many.
  • Scientists have warned that underwater mining may decimate organisms that have not yet been discovered, and sediment plumes could expose marine organisms to toxic metals. Bio-magnification is a possibility and these toxins could travel up the food chain to fish, dolphins and possibly humans.

Deep sea mining may become a common practice worldwide if the pilot trial in Papua New Guinea proves to be profitable. However, the detrimental impacts of sediment movement and release of toxic metals must be understood before the practice is adopted globally.

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About annaarathe

Research fellow, horizon scanning
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