Deep sea mining in South West Pacific to affect the environment?

Mining irresponsibly on land and strip mining to exploit natural resources has left many natural ecosystems teetering on the brink of complete destruction and while companies across the planet are taking full advantage of mineral deposits available on land, it seems like they have now turned their attention to a whole new horizon.

plume of hot water and minerals venting through the seabedThis is in no way to say that all mining process need to be stopped, but responsible use of these finite natural resources is imperative at this point of time and with growing demand in world market for metals and various minerals, this is a task that is easier said than done.

The latest avenue that mining companies are eyeing is deep sea mineral (DSM) mining and the first venture of this type was scheduled to kick start in the Bismarck Sea off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific.

But that has hit a snag already as various leading environmental groups have expressed grave concerns over going ahead with the process without completely investigating the pros and cons that are related to it.

For those still in the dark, deep sea mineral mining involves tapping into the mineral resources that are deposited on sea beds at depths of more than 1000 feet thanks to high geothermal and volcanic activity. Metals from within the earth are transported through geothermal tunnels that are highly active onto the ocean floor and these include rich deposits of gold, copper, silver, manganese, cobalt and zinc.

Considered as the next frontier in metallurgy, the technology is supposed to help meet the growing global demand for these metals that are becoming harder to find with each passing day. The DSM mining venture in the Bismarck Sea alone was expected to yield 783 million dollars in copper, which is a huge gain considering the soaring copper prices and the demand for the metal in global markets.

275 million dollars in gold was also expected to be dug out, but with leading scientists expressing fear that mining process in the ocean would destroy marine ecosystems beyond repair and hence effect global weather patterns as well, for the moment it seems like there needs to be plenty more research in the field before one can think of the metallic treasures hidden in the ocean bed.

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