Ocean floor mining involves extracting cobalt, copper, nickel and manganese, which are important materials for making batteries, from potato-sized rocks on the ocean floor at a depth of between four and six kilometres. The Clarion-Clipperton region in the North Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico is rich in such rocks.
“This irresponsible outcome is a missed opportunity to send a clear message … that the era of ocean destruction is over,” said Louisa Casson of Greenpeace, which opposes the activity over concerns about harm to whales and other wildlife.
The Metals Company, which has struck a deal to supply minerals to Glencore, has been a vocal supporter of ocean floor mining. Its officials have said repeatedly that they believe the impact of mining on the ocean floor will be less than that of traditional mining for minerals used to make batteries on land.
China is a leader in ocean floor drilling, but Chile, France, Palau, Fiji and others have called for a global moratorium on the activity, citing environmental concerns and a lack of adequate scientific data.
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