From whatever angle you look at it, mining minerals from a sea bed offers unique benefits, not only because of economics buts also because of social justice issues and the environment.
As we move into the future, more minerals such as lithium, cobalt, tellurium and neodymium, as well as iron, copper, zinc, lead and even graphite are needed to build wind turbines and electric vehicles, among many other things.
While the demand for these minerals is steadily increasing, their supply is unstable as their extraction brings about various social and environmental effects. For instance, waste from high-purity silicon processing, graphite and lithium has wreaked havoc on ecosystems and villages in Bolivia, China and Indonesia among others. The United States is currently combating acid mine drainage, a consequence of more than a century of mining.
This is crucial because many individuals who support the energy technological revolution of renewables and nonfossil fuels, efficiency, conservation and electric vehicles (“EVs”) also care about the social challenges that many technologies leave in their wake, including child labor, corruption, extreme poverty and environmental pollution.
These are just a few reasons why new metal sources should consider the carbon footprint of their projects’ life cycle as well as the social justice and environmental pollution effects.
While there is progress being made to go green and recycle, a lot still needs to be done if we are to achieve our climate goals by 2040. This is where sea bed mining of manganese nodules comes in.
For the longest time, geologists have known that the sea bed is full of various metals, from platinum to copper and nickel to gold and silver. Manganese nodules can be found in oceans and some lakes and can easily be harvested from the ocean floor.
For instance, the Clarion-Clipperton Zone is said to have more than 21 billion tons of manganese nodules. These nodules are made up of metals and other minerals that are useful in fertilizer and construction aggregate.
Additionally, unlike mining on land, sea bed mining causes no contaminated water bodies, no open pits or deforestation and no mining waste or toxic tailings. Furthermore, this mining has a carbon footprint that is 90% lower than that of land mining, and it also does not employ the use of child labor.
However, there are also concerns of damage to the ecosystem if this method is used. In addition to this, the method can cause vibrations, and noise and sediments through the extraction, pumping and processing of the manganese nodules.
As the debate about ocean bed mining continues, mining activities on dry land are progressing. For example, Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) has a documented, consistent record of being a leader in the production of uranium within the United States since 2006.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UUUU
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