Seabed mineral resources, an alternative for the future of renewable energy: A critical review

Norman Toro, PEDRO ADRIAN ROBLES VASQUEZ, Ricardo I. Jeldres

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Global warming is one of the most significant issues of today. Carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to climate change, and is mainly formed by the energy sector; thus, it is imperative to expand the total decarbonisation of this industry. Another global concern is the high demand and low supply of critical metals due to the constant growth of technological advances. These elements are essential for the manufacturing of advanced technology, green technology, and emerging industries. Currently, there is global tension and unrest over how the critical metals market is developing, with one example regarding China, which has an apparent monopoly on the mining, refining, and technical expertise associated with rare earth elements. China currently provides approximately 90% of the production of rare earth elements, causing conflicts with the European Union, the USA, and Japan due to their dependence on these raw materials. Another controversial case is the production of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which dominates in the global production (60% of the world's production of Co). Despite this, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the poorest countries in the world. The constant depletion of high-grade minerals from the Earth's surface forces the search for new alternative sources of the critical metals. The abundance of minerals within the sea is of relevance, with large deposits of marine nodules, ferromanganese crusts, and massive polymetallic sulphides. These are of great interest to the mining industry, as it is estimated that the largest reserves of various critical metals are found on the seabed, in addition to the largest reserves of cobalt, nickel, and manganese, and a considerable amount of rare earth elements. The exploitation of mineral resources from the seabed by the company Deep Sea Mining Finance Limited (DSMF) is currently being developed, which might promote the expansion of this market throughout the world. The wealth of minerals in the seabed may be a solution to the shortage of critical metals in the market, may decrease political tensions between countries worldwide, and may promote the large-scale deployment of renewable energy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103699
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Volume126
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clean energies
  • Critical metals
  • Deep sea mining
  • Global warming

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