If you think the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon explosion are going to be harmful on a variety of fronts, wait until they start opening up the ocean floor for copper, nickel, gold, silver, cobalt and more a mile below the surface.
Which, if the Chinese have their way, is about to happen, in international waters in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Papua, New Guinea.
So-called “deep sea mining” was first proposed as far back as the mid-1960s, in a book called Mineral Resources of the Seas by J.L. Mero. He described the potential as “limitless.” Over the next 20 years the U.S., Germany, France and others spent hundreds of millions of dollars investigating the possibilities. The Convention on the Law of the Sea created an International Seabed Authority to oversee potential mines; the Chinese have recently applied for a permit.
The possibility of mining the ocean floor 4,000 to 9,000 feet below the surface has been seriously rumbled about in recent years, especially in countries with booming populations thus resource needs. The Chinese are willing to pay for the risky and expensive operation and a Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, is willing to undertake the labor.
(For the rest of my dispatch, go to takepart.com)