Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mining the Ocean Floor

So torn. On the one hand, I'm an environmentalist, so I don't exactly want to encourage rapacious industrial mining anywhere on Earth.

On the other hand, I'm a big nerd, so I can't help but find this stuff cool. Mining the ocean floor! It's not the asteroid belt, but it's a start.
Heydon acknowledges that digging up the deep seas could make him a billionaire. But he insists that it’s also the solution to all the ills that land-based mining has caused. No indigenous societies need be disturbed. Better still, land doesn’t have to be butchered. There are no open pits, no leveled mountaintops. To make the most out of poor-quality ore, mining companies use cyanide to increase their yield and run the risk of polluting streams and lakes. None of that, he says, will happen underwater.

This new approach to mining comes as the industry reaches a critical juncture. Many of the major land deposits have been exhausted by the $225 billion-a-year industry. But demand for minerals has never been higher. China and India are rapidly developing a middle class that’s hungry to improve its quality of life. That means millions of new houses laced with miles of copper wiring and acres of corrugated iron roofing....

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