Future of Mining May Be Underwater

Mining for minerals such as copper could become more efficient and cause fewer environmental problems if miners look for their minerals at the bottom of the ocean rather than on land, according to a study—but some scientists say deep-sea mining may have harmful consequences that we still do not fully understand.

Nautilus Minerals is a company based in Australia and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange that wants to harvest copper from the hot vents at the bottom of the ocean that spew sulfur and other minerals rising from the earth’s mantle—the layer of earth directly below the planet’s crust. The company commissioned Tacoma, Washington-based consultancy Earth Economics to compare the environmental impacts of their own mining methods with land-based mining operations now in use around the world.

Nautilus is in its construction phase and plans to begin production off the coast of Papua New Guinea at a site called Solwara 1 in the first quarter of 2018.