The world’s first mining project on the ocean floor is ready to begin exploration off the coast of Papua New Guinea. If it succeeds in finding and extracting any significant amount of minerals, it will mark the beginning of a new era where mining companies go digging deep under water in search of gold, silver, copper, zinc, etc. It would also usher in a new area of risk for the environment, especially when it comes to the health of the ocean floor, sea life in general, and human beings who depend on that sea life.
The Solwara-1 copper-gold project, led by Canada’s Nautilus minerals, now has a 20 year license to explore sulfide deposits on the sea bed that lies 1 mile deep. Sulfide deposits can be the tell-tale sign of high grade mineral deposits. In addition to Papua, the company is also applying for licenses in Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Zealand, where they will soon launch new under sea mining operations.
The CEO of Nautilus insists that the environmental risk is minimal as their activity would have no impact on coral or fishing as it is not a designated fishing area. Critics of the project, which include the Australian Deep Sea Mining Campaign, point out that tuna stocks and other migratory sea life would be contaminated by heavy metals. They fear that toxic sediment resulting from the mining will have a great impact on a larger area of the Pacific ocean and all living things that depend on the sea, including humans.
Source: Fast Company
Photo: Official U.S. Navy Imagery / flickr