What's Going On Here?
This week, we learnt that the largest mining operation in the history of our planet is about to begin; underwater in the Atlantic Ocean, off the West Coast of Africa.
What Does This Mean?
Deep sea mining has been talked about for decades, but until now it's been deemed too risky to operate in the high-pressure, pitch-black conditions. However, as technology advances, dozens of governments and private ventures are now ‘diving in’.
It's hard to visualise, but imagine opencast mining taking place at the bottom of the ocean, where huge remote-controlled machines excavate rocks from the seabed and pump them up to the surface.
Off the coast of Namibia, the De Beers Group fleet of specialized ships drag machinery across the seabed in search of diamonds. In 2018, their ships extracted 1.4 million carats; in 2019, De Beers commissioned a new ship that will scrape the bottom twice as quickly as any other vessel.