Should We Mine the Seafloor?

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 313 (Hynes Convention Center)
Concerns are growing about the scarcity of metals, as a consequence of increasing global wealth, expanding metal diversity in state-of-the-art products, and declining ore grades in land-based mineral deposits. Untapped mineral resources on the seafloor provide a possible response to scarcity concerns, if numerous conditions are met: if those resources can be quantitatively evaluated; if recovery and processing techniques can be developed; if marine ecosystem impacts can be minimized; and if adequate international legal structures can be put in place to assure responsible behavior and clear title to the resources. There is currently no seafloor mining deeper than the continental shelves. However, national entities and the International Seabed Authority have granted exploration contracts and at least one commercial mining lease intended for extraction. New resource deposits could be important in enabling a better quality of life for people in developing countries over the next several decades. However, without a careful assessment of how extraction and processing can be done, and perhaps even with such an assessment, major damage to important and fragile marine ecosystems could occur. This session involves a scholarly review of deep seafloor mining: its potential for good and for harm, its engineering feasibility, and its legal and societal implications.
Stace Beaulieu, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Thomas Graedel, Yale University
Mindy Todd, WCAI - The Cape & Islands NPR Station
Mark Hannington, GEOMAR-Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research
Prospects for Deep-Sea Mining
Stace Beaulieu, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Ecosystem Services From the Deep Sea
See more of: Environment and Ecology
See more of: Scientific Sessions