14 August 2012
By Anita Li
Humanity’s never-ending search for resources has taken a dive — into the sea.
Canadian company Nautilus Minerals is embarking on the world’s first commercial deep-sea mining project, called Solwara 1.
The venture aims to extract gold and copper from the floor of the Bismarck Sea in Papua New Guinea. Last year, the local government granted Nautilus a mining lease for an “initial 20-year term” to operate nearly a mile underwater.
But detractors say deep-sea mining could negatively impact the environment.
“Sea floor volcanic systems, deep-sea ecosystems and the spread of pollution from deep sea mining are not well understood,” according to the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, a group dedicated to stopping experimental seabed mining in the Pacific. “It’s not possible to predict the impacts of any individual DSM project, let along the cumulative impacts of the many DSM projects proposed for the [Bismarck] Sea and throughout the Pacific.”
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