Raw materials for batteries? Mining companies look at the sea floor

To increase battery production you must have Sufficient supply of raw materials. Precisely for this reason, mining companies They are working to find new locations where they can extract these important resources for the automotive sector. Apparently, these companies seem to be looking attentively for potential new areas that exist under the sea.

Precisely for this reason, these companies are working on obtaining concessions to exploit these new mining sites, as well as developing all the equipment necessary to extract minerals from the seabed. At the same time, the environmental associations They are already moving to slow this race because the ecological impact of the marine ecosystem could be very significant. Precisely for this reason, many companies, including some car manufacturers, have pledged not to use raw materials extracted from the seabed precisely because of these environmental risks.

great resources

What attracts mining companies are Significant amounts of nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese that can be found at the bottom of the sea. At a depth of more than 3000 meters, there are vast areas whose rocks contain this material that is very important for the production of electric car batteries. However, these abyssal plains are also the largest habitat on the entire planet.

In these areas there are small boulders (similar in size to those of potatoes) covering the sea floor called polymetallic nodules. These rocks contain much higher concentrations of nickel and cobalt than those found on Earth.

As it was said: There are 274 million tons of nickel In an area of ​​1.7 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. This area is called Clarion Clipperton. For comparison, on Earth, taking into account all known reserves, they do not exceed 95 million tons. There would also be 44 million tons of cobalt on the sea floor compared to 7.5 million tons on land.

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Accelerating sales of electric vehicles and a growing demand for battery materials have started a race for these resources to the sea floor. Mining companies remain Develop your own independent means Who can work in these depths to collect these rocks that contain the precious resources to make the pools.

However, much of the equipment is derived from that used in oil and gas extraction. One of the advantages of extracting valuable materials from the seabed is Shortening the supply chain.

For example, cobalt is mined in the Congo and then sent to South Africa, where it is shipped to China for refining. The metal then goes to battery factories in Europe and the United States. In the case of offshore mining, the materials are stored in ships and then brought as close as possible directly to the customer. Most companies refer to the Clarion-Clipperton region located between Mexico and Hawaii. Its proximity to the North American market and its location “in friendly waters” make it very attractive.

But the risks?

In short, the potential of this solution to solve the problems of saving raw materials for batteries is very high. However, there is the problem of potential damage to the marine ecosystem. Fortunately, the supervision of the exploitation of these new resources isInternational Seabed Authority (International Seabed Authority), which was established in 1994 and has nearly 200 member states. Since 2021, it has granted 19 exploration permits to a variety of international companies and is currently developing a type of mining code that will govern the exploitation of seabed mineral resources. Meanwhile, mining companies and environmental groups are preparing for a showdown.

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