As part of their commitment to enhance the links between FixO3 and the ocean industry, WP5-leader SLR summarizes the status of the Deep Sea Mining (DSM) industry in a report that covers the resources and the most explored areas and operators. The document also addresses the environmental concerns raised by DSM and highlights the opportunities for FixO3 partners. .
Since the concept of DSM originally came to light in the 1960s, and together with advances in technology and average land-based mineral deposit grades decreasing, DSM is now becoming an increasingly attractive source of minerals. While shallow underwater deposits (<600m), such as diamonds, iron sands and phosphate, have been exploited by resource companies for years, deep sea mining (>400m) represents a new and important area of exploration and investment. The main targets for exploitation within this sector are polymetallic (Mn) nodules, cobalt crusts and massive sulphide deposits, which can wield high concentrations and varying amounts of iron, lead, copper, zinc, nickel and manganese, as well as precious metals such as gold.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has since 1994 been responsible for issuing and governing exploration and mining licences (contracts) in international waters, with contracts currently only held by government sponsored companies. The regions of the world ocean currently more explored for DSM are the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the Western Pacific Ocean, the South West Indian Ridge, Mid Atlantic Ridges and the Indian Ocean.
Being still in its infancy, the DSM industry faces a number of significant challenges including technological challenges of extraction and operation, environmental, legislative and socio-economic issues. The main concern for the DSM industry, as an emerging and untested operating sector, is environmental, with largely unknown and potentially wide spreading environmental impacts including loss of substrate and effects on pelagic and benthic organisms.
FixO3 partners are ideally positioned to provide a range of services required by the DSM sector, including large scale marine environmental monitoring in the deep ocean and the possibility to provide concrete scientific input. Numerous opportunities exist for companies supplying consultancy, services and products to the DSM sector.. A significant opportunity exists for companies operating in the marine environmental monitoring sector.