The concept of mining the deep seabed has been around for decades. What was once a far-fetched idea is now close to reality. This is in part due to growth in the renewable energy sector, which has boosted demand for elements such as copper, cobalt and manganese, used to make wind turbines, batteries and other green technologies. Mining companies have already started prospecting in areas rich in minerals containing these elements, including a series of hydrothermal vents in the mid-Atlantic known as the “Lost City”.
But scientists and conservationists are warning of the damage mining could cause in deep-sea environments as yet largely unexplored. What will happen to rare and vulnerable species like the scaly-foot snail if we start digging up the seabed? Is this really part of the solution to the world’s climate crisis?