Environmental Risks of Deep-sea Mining

  • Philip P. E. Weaver
  • David S. M. Billett
  • Cindy L. Van Dover


The mining of the deep-sea for minerals has been on the horizon for many years with interest increasing rapidly since 2010 following the application for, and approval of, many new contracts for exploration in international waters. Some contracts for exploitation have been granted in national waters with mining expected in the next few years. These activities will impact ecosystems that have not been affected by man’s influence before, and many of them are poorly understood due to their remoteness and complexity. This paper describes the likely impacts for mining the three main deep-sea minerals—manganese nodules, cobalt crusts and polymetallic sulphides and briefly looks at possible mitigation measures.


Deep-sea mining Environmental impact Polymetallic nodules Seafloor sulphides Cobalt crusts 



P.P.E. Weaver and D.S.M. Billett acknowledge funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under the MIDAS project, grant agreement n° 603418.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip P. E. Weaver
    • 1
  • David S. M. Billett
    • 2
  • Cindy L. Van Dover
    • 3
  1. 1.Seascape ConsultantsRomseyUK
  2. 2.Deep Seas Environmental SolutionsAshurstUK
  3. 3.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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