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Traci Gongaware Gongaware 1

Professor Christensen
Huma 1100, 3B
Nature Unit Paper
Deep Sea Mining
A Canadian mining company named Nautilus Minerals has recently come to an agreement with
Papua New Guinea to start digging for minerals off of their coast a ways. Deep sea mining has come to
light with the new find of copper and gold ores beneath the water. The ores are located in massive
sulfur deposits which are usually called hydrothermal vents. A potential problem with deep sea mining
is the fact that the vents are teeming with life that has adapted to the harsh conditions and if they start
to drill there it could potentially hurt the population of deep sea creatures already housed there and then
there is the potential problem of hurting the ecosystem down there as a whole.
These vents started to become a real potential mining site when the copper industry was going
through a hard time. The mining companies couldn't help, but put hope in underwater minerals to help
them. Just think of all the wealth there is to be had down there and it was a perfect way to help copper
get back up in price. It has also put a call out for new technology to be able to mine down in the depths.
The mining companies have done their research and expect that the life at the mining site would be
disturbed and have to move, but after they're done mining they expect life could easily recolonize and
continue on as before.
The scientists saw a different side to this. There has not been a lot of research done on these
places, but what scientist have found is a lot of new species. The species do differ from place to place
so destroying one home could wipe out a specific type of species and then a new one would have to
take its place to recolonize the site. The exotic life that has adapted to the extreme heat and the
chemicals are new to the scientists, they don't want to lose potential species and have it hampering their
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Some people have suggested that perhaps the mining should be done on non-active vent areas.
The only problem is the fact that the non-active areas are nearly impossible to find because they no
longer give off plumes of heat which is how we have been able to find the active vents. One scientist
named, Juniper, has said, Mining one site probably won't make much of a difference, but intensive
and exhaustive mining of a region over a very short period of years could be disastrous to the
ecosystem. The big problem is there really hasn't been sufficient research done for anybody to be able
to predict how bad or harmless the mining could be.
There is a mine that has already been picked out and it is named Solwara-1. Just recently
Nautilus Minerals has gotten permission from the UN and made a deal with Papua New Guinea. The
company has told of an increase in technology to be able to do this and it is a lot safer than mining on
land because the workers will not be face to face with the rocks, but up above on the surface of the
water. They plan on just breaking the top layer of the seabed so they can just pump the minerals up to
the boat.
Scientists once again are just worried about all the lost potential of the exotic life in these areas.
Neither side can be considered correct, though, because neither side is sure of the side effects of deep
sea mining. Perhaps the mining could put a boost in the technology to be able to study the creatures at
their level. Though, we can't research the animals if they are no longer there. With us exhausting the
minerals on the land and cutting down our forests; it seems it is time to start going through the forest of
the sea.
The ocean is full of mystery and new things to discover. We have already destroyed places of
the wild on the land and with developing technology it seems we will be able to do the same to the
murky deeps of the ocean. Have we not learned our lesson in preserving nature before it is too late? It
seems that the big money people will always have their way and destroy anything if it means a chance
to gain more profit.
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Works Cited
Drew, Lisa W., Oceanus Magazine, November 20, 2009

Shukman, David, BBC News, April 25, 2014