Mining for metals in the deep sea

An important resource or an environmental catastrophe?
09 July 2020
Presented by Chris Smith
Production by Eva Higginbotham.




Cobalt is one of nature’s 118 chemical elements. For centuries it’s been valued for its distinctive blue colour, but more recently it’s become a vital ingredient in the production of re-chargeable batteries for everything from your mobile phone to electric cars. It’s mainly been extracted from ore quarried or mined on land, a process which can be environmentally damaging and disruptive for the communities who live nearby. That’s why the billionaire engineer and industrialist Elon Musk has said that the aim for the next generation of his Tesla company car batteries is for them to be cobalt-free. But what if there was a different source of cobalt, and other metals, we need for electric car batteries? Well there is, but it’s deep down in the ocean and, as you might expect, plans to mine for it there are not without controversy. Some of the ocean reserves are in what’s known as the Clarion–Clipperton Fracture Zone - the CCZ - an area that’s about as big as Europe four thousand metres below sea level in the Pacific. Eva Higginbotham...

Correction: REV Ocean is a private research organisation working on solutions to ocean problems, not an advocacy group as stated in this interview. 


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