At a time when terrestrial mineral and petroleum deposits all over the world are becoming more scarce, many companies are slowly moving into marine based mining. This is usually associated with offshore drilling for oil and gas, however in recent years, the likelihood of having a marine based mine for minerals has increased so much that we already have a proposed schedule for the start of deep sea mining in early 2011.
The main question in everyones minds is how successful will the deep sea mining company be at keeping its tailings at a minimum and what environmental impacts the mining practice will have on the environment. While scientists and environmentalists all over the world are still looking for safer techniques and alternatives to this method of mining, this is fast becoming a race against time and with the current state of the worlds economy, this is shaping up to be a losing battle for the scientists.
Having said that, it is even more frustrating to see that the PNG government has recently approved Deep Sea Tailings at the Basamuk bay for its new US$1 billion Ramu Nickel project Pipe. According to a news paper article from PNG, tailings disposal from the mine which are said to be already neutralized, would be piped along the sea floor to a depth of 150m below sea level where they would be released. To construct the Deep Sea Tailings Pipeline (DSTP), mine operator, Chinese Metallic Company Corporation (CMCC) has suggested blasting a pathway 500 meters long by 5 meters wide through coral beds in the region.
How do we justify the decisions made at the cost of the environment?