The good news: The Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) contains more nickel than the rest of the world’s nickel reserves combined. It also has significant resources of high-grade lithium, copper and rare earth metals—all of which are critical for the batteries the world needs to meet Paris Agreement targets.

The bad news: The CCZ lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and contains biodiverse ecosystems we know very little about—and that we could profoundly harm if we mine them.

The CCZ lies between Hawaii and Mexico and is about half the size of the continental United States. And it’s just one of many potential deep-sea sources of critical minerals.

So should we mine the deep sea to fight climate change? And if we do, how do we also protect seafloor ecosystems?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Renee Grogan, an expert in deep-sea mining. She is a co-founder and board director at Impossible Metals. 

Together they cover topics like:

  • The different types of seafloor resources, including polymetallic nodules, cobalt ferro-manganese crusts, and massive sulfides
  • Better understanding seafloor ecosystems and incorporating science into mining practices and regulations, including selective harvesting, protected areas, and offsets
  • The challenges of enforcing regulations three to five kilometers below the surface
  • Ongoing negotiations at the International Seabed Authority, which was planning to finalize regulations for deep-sea mining last week, but announced that it needed more time.

Recommended Resources:

  • NYT: Pacific Seabed Mining Delayed as International Agency Finalizes Rules
  • Forbes: Deep Sea Mining: The Biggest Climate Issue You’ve Never Heard Of
  • British Geological Survey: Deep-sea mining evidence review – MineralsUK

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