Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining

01 October 2014 → 31 March 2017
Regional and community funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Ecology
    • Environmental science and management
    • Other environmental sciences
deep-sea mining
Project description

Marine mineral resources, such as polymetallic nodules, crusts and submarine-exhalative sulphides have recently become the target of policy makers, mining companies and deep sea researchers. The lack or limited availability of certain high tech elements or minerals in terrestrial ore deposits, essential for the electronics industry, future transportation concepts, or the new generation of alternative energies, have made raw materials from the marine environment a target for future mining operations.However, commercial deep-sea mining will always cause a major impact on local ecosystems. The collector unit gathering nodules will destroy the top few centimetres of the seabed, causing major disturbance and disruption of the flora and fauna in the mining tracks. In addition, the propulsion system of the collector will stir up sediments; as a result, organisms in and around the track will be partially or entirely buried. To minimize human impact on the benthic community, long term studies of environmental consequences prior to any mining activities are essential.