The Future Promise of Mining in the Ocean

CIM Bulletin, 1972

JOHN l. MERO. President, Ocean Resources, Inc .. La Jolla, California, U.S.A.

The ocean has served humanity as a source of raw materials for thousands of years, but only on a minimal scale relative to its potential. Exploration programs have shown the ocean to contain a large number of mineral deposits of great extent and attractive grade. Recent research has indicated that a number of these deposits can be economically expfoited with p,resent-day technology and that the cost of winning many industrially important minerals from the oceanic deposits is potentially much less than that of winning similar minerals from land deposits. Although the finding of mineral deposits in the sea is a relatively simple matter at the present time, the exploitation of many of these deposits has lagged due to the lack of the availability of specific mining techniques for the individual deposits. Within the past two years, however, several developments have taken place in the design and testing of ocean mining systems in depths of water as great as 12,000 feet which indicate that the problem of mining in the ocean may soon be solved. Within the next decade, the ocean should prove to be a major source of many minerals for society and should come to dominate as a source of such metals as copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, etc. Within a few years of the initiation of the mining of the deep-sea metalliferous nodules, land sources of such metals as nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese, etc. will be seriously affected and it is conceivable that the present structure of the world mining industry will undergo a substantial change in character.
Keywords: Deposits, manganese nodules, placer mining, Red Sea, metals, mining, Oceans, Systems, Water, Waters