For the mining industry, technological advances have made the world’s oceans the new frontier. Both companies and governments have started exploration and even tout deep-sea mining as a safer alternative to the problems caused by mineral extraction. But they do so in the absence of any scientific consensus on the long-term impacts of deep-sea mining.
The mining industry has set its sights on a new frontier – the deep sea. Seabed or deep-sea mining involves extracting minerals from hydrothermal vents, manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean’s floor. In just the past five years, the number of seabed mining permits granted by the International Seabed Authority has tripled, to a total of 26 – and counting. But while permits are granted at a rapid clip, we still have too little understanding of deep-sea mining’s ultimate impacts.