SPC Geoscience Division

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Saturday, 29 January 2022


Concerns about protecting the environment during exploration and mining for deep seabed minerals will not be addressed by a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Dr Malcolm Clark, Principal Scientist (Deepwater Fisheries) at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Wellington, New Zealand, expressed this opinion during the international workshop on Environmental Management Needs for Exploration and Exploitation of Deep Seabed Minerals.

The workshop, jointly organised by SOPAC a division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the International Seabed Authority, took place in Nadi, Fiji, during December 2011, as a part of the European Union funded, four-year Deep Seabed Minerals Project.

Dr Clark said that the more we learn about the deep sea the more we realise that parts of it are split up into smaller environmental packages, and we don’t have a good understanding of how large these package-like “ecosystems” are, or the degree of connectivity between them.

There are three types of deep seabed deposits that are being considered as potential resources to be mined: massive sulfide deposits cobalt crusts, and manganese nodules.