Author: Olive Heffernan
For decades, mining companies have been eager to extract rare and valuable metals and minerals from the deep sea — a practice that scientists have long warned could damage marine ecosystems. Now, the first large-scale test of a major industrial-mining technique promises to provide robust data on the impacts of the controversial practice.
Next month, a Belgian mining firm will use a machine to hoover up metals such as copper and iron that lie in rock deposits — or nodules — on the sea floor in the remote Pacific Ocean. Alongside, an independent team of European scientists will study the effects — in particular, how plumes of sediment created by the churning could affect the vibrant marine communities that inhabit the seabed and the water column.
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