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Seabed mining

What is it?

An active hydrothermal vent chimney spewing out hydrothermal fluids. By Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Exploration, NOAA Vents Program. (NOAA Photo Library: expl1373)

The quantity of minerals occupying the ocean floor is potentially large. Seabed mining is concerned with the retrieval of these minerals to:

  • ensure security of supply; and
  • fill a gap in the market where either recycling is not possible or adequate, or the burden on terrestrial mines is too great.

Why EU-level action?

Numerous organisations within the EU are presently engaged in seabed mining activities, both as technology providers and as mine operators. The sector, though small, has been identified as having the potential to generate sustainable growth and jobs for future generations.

However, our lack of knowledge of the deep-sea environment necessitates a careful approach. The European Commission is thus engaged in a variety of studies and projects aimed at shedding light on the benefits, drawbacks and knowledge gaps associated with this type of mining.

Official documents

Consultation

Stakeholder consultation on seabed mining

More info

Research

Maritime affairs

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