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Environmental Impact

Hydrothermal vent. Photo by K.G. Jebsen Centre for Deep Sea Research UiB.

It is important to minimize environmental impact independent of the source of minerals. We must understand the risk and mitigate the potential negative impact related to both exploration and exploitation of marine minerals.

Marine mineral resources represent new environmental challenges that must be carefully managed. A key challenge for the exploitation of marine minerals are environmental concerns, including the potential for damage to unique ecosystems.

Seabed massive sulphides (SMS) deposits come with about 5-10 times higher ore grade than land-based sites, while nodules and crusts come with very limited waste and tailings. This suggests the potential for a lower environmental impact for marine minerals than current land-based mining.

Different types of resources could make it challenging to compare different project. Studies by e.g., Paulikas et al. shows significant lower waste, CO2 emissions and biomass risk with extracting seabed nodules versus land-based mining.

It is important to note that no company plan to exploit active hydrothermal vent systems, which is known for its unique ecosystems. Companies are targeting sites where minerals can be retrieved with a minimum environmental impact.

GCE Ocean Technology is part of the Eco-Safe Ridge Mining project, which aims to fill key knowledge gaps, assess environmental risks and identify appropriate mitigation actions regarding deep-sea mining.