The deep seabed is Earth’s final frontier but this mostly unexplored, dark and pristine abyss is threatened by highly destructive deep-sea mining which could be at full throttle within months. “Most, if not all deep-sea biologists are very worried about deep-sea mining,” says Dr Akito Yasuhara a deep-sea ecologist and associate professor at the Swire Institute of Marine Science in the University of Hong Kong. The deep-sea mining agenda is being led by nations like China and private corporations desperate to extract polymetallic nodules from the deep ocean floor. They say these potato-sized nuggets rich in valuable cobalt, nickel and other battery metals could be the key to the world’s sustainable future.
There is a growing chorus of dissent which insists the environmental impact of these deep-sea mining operations has not been properly assessed. They involve giant mechanical seabed tractors, hoovering up nodules before crushing them and trailing long plumes of sediment.