Deep Rising Debate
The recently premiered documentary, Deep Rising, sparked a thought-provoking panel discussion at Litteraturhuset in Bergen, focusing on deep-sea mining.
The debate circled around the delicate balance between scientific exploration, economic interests, and environmental conservation. Touching upon international and national activities and ongoing work on the regulatory framework.
Moderator Peter Haugan referred to the multitude of organisms depicted in the movie, showcasing a range of different environments from active hydrothermal systems to the more barren areas of the deep sea.
– I've spent 15 years of my life staring at the ocean floor, stated Lars-Kristian Trellevik, CSOO at Adepth Minerals.
– Active areas indeed boast unique life forms, but this is a “no go” both from the government and from our side. Our interests lie only in exploration of the inactive sulphide deposits. A thorough mapping of different areas will be essential before any conclusions can be drawn, explained Trellevik.
Adepth Minerals is heading the Green Platform project EMINENT, aiming to develop a deep sea minerals value chain with significant less environmental and climate footprint compared to current land-based mining. The University of Bergen and GCE Ocean Technology are two of the 15 partners.
– Through various consortia, we facilitate innovation and knowledge sharing between industry and researchers as collaboration is key to filling the knowledge gaps about deep sea mining, emphasized Jon Hellevang.
Foundation of life in the ocean
Tina Kutti underscored the significance of microbiology, highlighting microbial communities often overlooked but foundational to marine ecosystems.
The discussion emphasized the vital role microbes play in maintaining the delicate balance of the planet. Lise Øvreås highlighted the importance of these primitive life forms thriving on chemical energy from the Earth, shaping entire ecosystems.
Challenges and choices
Metals are key to realising the energy transition and the renewable energy system is significantly more mineral intensive than the fossil-system. Seabed minerals are known for containing a higher grade of several minerals necessary for the energy transition.
The conversation raised questions about the extensive mineral requirements projected and the need to boost recycling as a solution.
– I think we all acknowledge the need for and potential for reduced consumption, technology development, circular- and sharing economy, however even the most optimistic scenarios show a significant increase in the metal demand, says Jon Hellevang.
Trellevik argued that responsible seabed mining could be a more sustainable choice, especially if it accelerates electrification, thereby mitigating the planet's overheating and ocean acidification, which, in turn, affects the oceans.
There seams to be consensus that more knowledge is needed, the question is more related to the steps and the speed of the process.
– Our experience from various projects shows that collaboration between different organizations and disciplines is important for progress. We suggest more funding for independent research, as well as for an opening for the industry to participate in the exploration, states Hellevang.
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