Drawing parallels between aggregates, deep sea mining

Titan, the OceanGate submersible that imploded earlier this year, became a news sensation because of its connection to the Titanic.

Thrill seekers, however, aren’t the only ones interested in the sea floor these days. Deep sea mining companies have been eyeing the bottom of the ocean for years, arguing that a successful transition to green energy depends on utilizing the minerals and metals that reside tens of thousands of feet under the sea. Ball Mill Rock Crusher

Drawing parallels between aggregates, deep sea mining

While crushed stone, sand and gravel aren’t the target of deep sea mining companies, the debate surrounding deep sea mining should sound familiar to those producing aggregates.

The debate involves those aiming to mine the world’s seabeds and those seeking to protect it.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), an agency affiliated with the United Nations that includes 167 member nations and 29 observing nations (including the U.S.), is at the center of the conversation. Ultimately, ISA has the power to decide how and where companies mine the deep sea, but the agency failed to approve a set of rules and regulations ahead of a July 9 deadline.

According to ISA, it’s seen an increase in the last five years in the number of organizations applying for contracts to explore the sea floor – and some pressure is mounting from companies who say they’re ready to mine the ocean bottom.

In a July article, for instance, USA Today outlines how minerals and metals such as copper, lithium and nickel – ones needed to make electric vehicle batteries and other green technologies – are available on the sea floor. Additionally, the means to mine these materials is reportedly viable, with one process described by USA Today as involving “specially hardened mining equipment [that] would be lowered down, trailing miles-long cables to provide the power necessary to pick up the ore and crush it to a manageable size.”

Still, opponents in the debate say plenty of questions must be answered about deep sea mining’s impact. Opponents argue that the environmental impacts are largely unknown. How much disruption, for example, will be caused to marine life?

Plus, from a business standpoint, how will a percentage of profits (taxes) from deep sea mining companies be redistributed to stakeholders, who, in this case, are the people of the world?

The conversation surrounding deep sea mining is fascinating, drawing parallels to the many localized debates taking place about pits and quarries in communities across the U.S. today. And while certain materials are necessary to sustain life as currently constructed, a balance that accounts for the impact on an environment is ideal to ensure both sides achieve a level of satisfaction.

Like debates over the local quarry, no one is likely to ever be fully satisfied. But it will be interesting to see how much true exploration is pursued before mining operations take place under the sea.

Featured Photo: P&Q Staff

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Drawing parallels between aggregates, deep sea mining

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