Underwater natural treasures: the new gold rush began

February 10, 2013 19:41

On the ocean floor at a depth of more than a kilometer are treasures in quantities not snivshihsya any treasure hunter: a huge amount of gold, copper, zinc and precious minerals.

Scientists have known about this for a long time, but the ever-increasing demand for such jewelry has caused a real interest in the ocean treasures. Treasures lie in the holds of the sunken ship, but in the natural mineral deposits, and some companies are ready to begin their development in the coming years.

Deposits easy to find, layers of deposits can be found all over the ocean floor in areas where hydrothermal vents emit metals and minerals in high concentrations.

Underwater geysers spewing water heated to 600 degrees Celsius. When these hot streams, climbing, reaching icy sea water, the minerals in the form of sediment fall to the sea floor.

Different sources produce different precious connection. In this case, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the ocean floor is so much gold that if give it to mankind, you get to 4 pounds each, living on Earth.

Given the current price of gold, it is more than 150 trillion.

Put it the beginning of a new industry?

New mining industry will have to solve many problems — from the development of new technological devices and the need for major investments to settle the dispute with environmentalists, fishermen and residents of coastal areas.

Similar obstacles in Papua New Guinea overcomes young company Nautilus Minerals. Its representatives are hoping to start there first deep mining operation because the ocean floor in this area is rich in ores containing copper, zinc and gold volumes, valued at millions of dollars.

Last year, the Government of Papua New Guinea has provided twenty Canadian company a license to develop the thirty-kilometer area along the coast of New Guinea in the sea on the south-western Pacific Ocean.

The company plans to develop the field, called Solwara 1. In the process of reaching the oil will combine deep industry with the capabilities of new deep robots. It is expected that the volume of production was one million three hundred thousand tons per year.

Vice President of Nautilus Minerals Samantha Smith, in charge of corporate social responsibility, said that the development of seabed safe and environmentally friendly than similar activities on land.

She said: "Do not destroy any rock formations to get to the ore veins. Waste is expected to order less, will not need to relocate residents. Is it not more socially beneficial option? '.

Yet, at a depth of more than a kilometer away, where the pressure is 160 times greater than on land, and where the water temperature ranges from zero to a hundred degrees above the boiling point — is complex and expensive compared to the mainland.

In Nautilus Minerals says — they are going to use three remote-controlled mechanism, like a giant lawn mower to collect the precious sediment and to send them by pipeline km altitude.

The pipeline will be equipped with a mechanism to remove excess water and waste rock that will be returned back to the sea floor. This will help prevent contamination of the water surface. Mined ore will be transported to a special hub for getting rid of unwanted impurities.

Unknown effects

The bottom of the ocean — is still very little-studied place rarely visited by people and a lot of tayaschee unknown decided to master it.

By the way, a scientist in 1977 was able to prove the existence of underground geysers.

It was in that year, the expedition, consisting of geologists, geochemists and geophysicists from different institutions, have proved the existence of underground geothermal sources in the Galápagos crevice, filmed them on camera while diving in submersibles "Alvin."

High water temperature and the abundance of wildlife was a surprise to researchers.

"Code for the first time people have gone down to this depth, and saw it with my own eyes, it was a revelation to them" — says Mike Coffin of the Australian Institute of Tasmania. "Portholes submersibles could melt even at a lower water temperature than it was in the one that erupted geyser."

Before the eyes of scientists, who expected to see the desert landscape, brought a variety of sea creatures: snails the size of a tennis ball, two-meter Rift (giant annelid worms, approx. Mixednews.ru), purple octopus, is white crabs and sea rays.

It turns out that far from the sun, the minerals that are going to extract from the bottom back up the life of a family of living beings.

Therefore, many scientists fear that deep mining work can be dangerous for little-known living inhabitants of those places, because their usual environment will be reconfigured.

"We are only at the beginning of commercialization solutions deep sea" — said the director of the Duke University Marine Department Cindy van Daver. "And try as you can clearly outline the terms of reference."

Daver Wang participated in the first expedition deep biological studies underwater geysers in 1982. She — the only woman ever to manage deep-sea vehicle "Alvin." Despite the considerable success of ocean research, the science is still very young.

As for the possible impact of development on the bottom of the deep sea life forms, Van Daver said about this: "It is necessary to carry out specific studies. We know too little about the deep ecosystem and still do not understand what we can lose. "

She added: "We do not even know what we need to know."

Conservationists also want to learn about underwater geysers and on how to develop the bottom as possible.

The leader of Australian organizations, protesting against the development of subsea field, Helen Rosenbaum, says that the idea of deep new to the whole world.

She said: "It will be the world's first attempt to such exploitation of the seabed. We are unaware of the consequences of these actions, so you need to follow safety precautions. If we are aware of the consequences, we can sit down at the negotiating table. "

Rosenbaum adds that the public of Papua New Guinea shows a growing concern the possibility of loss of earnings by local residents from development of the seabed and complaining about a lack of information.

Members of the protest especially concerned about the consequences of exposure to toxic heavy metals on the health of local populations and fish populations. They say that the safety report submitted by the developer company, has spaces on the chemical properties of substances that are in development will be raised from the bottom and flows relate to the coast.

"Field Development Project Solwara 1 for three years" — says Rosenbaum. "The mining company hopes to get out of here before the float problem of heavy metal toxicity, because until such problems may take a few years."

Activists protesting organizations relate observed in the region, "the murky water, the death of tuna and a sluggish response of local shark" Call ", long practices of local residents" with the preliminary work on the test equipment development company Nautilus Minerals.

"Call of sharks" — a local religious ritual. It lies in the fact that the local people with bait "beckon" shark and catch them by hand.

Another cause for concern — the local government will receive thirty percent of extracted minerals in payment for the opportunity to develop the deposit.

Mining company and the government is currently suing because of financial dispute over development of the field, but the protesters organizations fear that the financial interest of the government to prevent an objective decision.

Financial benefits

Samantha Smith of Nautilus Minerals insists that the company takes precautions and operates openly. According to her, the biggest challenge — this funding.

It plays the role of volatility in the commodities market, the high cost of the work at a great depth, and financial differences with the Government of Papua New Guinea.

In November last year, the company announced the suspension of building the necessary equipment because of financial problems. Smith assures the search company management solutions, allowing to continue the work, and talks about the opportunity to begin the development of the bottom in 2014.

Many international companies are also considering the development of the seabed in the South Pacific.

The International Seabed Authority (established for the control and development of the international seabed area, approx.), Acting within the framework of the UN International Convention on the Law of the Sea, in the last decade has provided a number of permits for research activities in this direction. This list includes India, France, Japan, Russia, China, South Korea and Germany.

It is expected that the financial benefits will be involved in this process are increasingly participating countries.

"Everyone is driven economy" — said Mike Coffin of the Institute in Tasmania. "Technical capabilities expand, and scientists are on the heels of miners trying to calculate the consequences. It is desirable that there be a different scenario. "

Mixednews — Daniel Perov

Like this post? Please share to your friends: