As precious metals become ever more scarce, deep sea mining has become an increasingly profitable venture. The sea floor, once an unreachable and untouched reservoir of metals like gold, copper, and iron, is now within the reach of mining operations.
Yet, negative environmental consequences remain a concern to many. The mining process displaces thousands of tons of rock and releases toxic minerals into the surrounding ecosystem. Likewise, hydrothermal vents that have existed for thousands of years are threatened as well. Sea-floor Massive Sulphide (SMS) Deposits contain iron pyrite which comprises almost 90 percent of the SMS deposits.
Rod Fujita, Director of Research and Development for the Oceans Program at the Environmental Defense Fund is weary of deep sea mining’s potential ecological impact.
“It’s the cradle of life on earth and the only one that does not depend on sunlight. There are species there that are found nowhere else on earth.”
Deep sea mining companies like Nautalis Minerals are more optimistic about the resilience of underwater ecosystems.
“It is expected that within a few years the major faunal elements will have re-established. This prediction is made based on observations taken during many years of research at various hydrothermal vent sites around the world.”