These Deep Sea ‘Potatoes’ Could Be the Future of Renewable Energy Mining
Because of the sheer array of metals they contain, at least one company has likened each nodule to a battery in a rock. That’s why, over the past decade, companies have begun to explore the possibility of commercial deep-sea mining, primarily in the Clarion-Clipperton area.
But not everyone agrees with this use of the ocean, because a lot of life is found in and around these nodule fields, from corals and sea cucumbers to worms and dumbo octopuses, not to mention all the little creatures we have yet to discover. Scientists have also raised questions about what will happen when mining operations lift sediment: the plumes could disrupt wildlife or even natural carbon storage under the seafloor.
Who decides ?
Governing international waters is a complicated business. For deep sea mining, there is a UN group in charge, called the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which was founded in 1994 and is based in Jamaica. The ISA has drawn up a mining code for commercial operations, but some companies already want to push things forward.
A process is in place to remedy this situation, called the two-year rule: at any time before the regulations are adopted, a member country has the power to notify the ISA that it wishes to begin mining. , and the ISA then has two years. to invent rules.
The tiny island nation of Nauru in Micronesia triggered the two-year rule just two years ago, so the deadline is July 9, 2023. But the ISA’s next meeting, where it could potentially finalize the regulations, begins on July 10, so the deadline is toast.
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