The global need for lithium-ion batteries is projected to grow by over 500% in the next decade, creating a soaring demand for new battery factories and key components of batteries, especially metals. Establishing sustainable battery-supply chains is an important goal. Fortunately, metals are infinitely reusable, and so billions of dollars are being poured into new battery recycling plants.
Rich deposits of metals cover vast areas of deep ocean floors. Mining companies have focused on polymetallic nodules, and large-scale seafloor mining could begin by 2024. Given the potential for irreversible consequences to ocean environments and our climate, many are calling for a moratorium or a delay in this mining.
Opportunities from mining metals like manganese and cobalt to developing new drugs are being found by researchers who are examining our oceans more carefully. Polymetallic nodules, sometimes referred to as “a battery in a rock”, have attracted particular attention. By volume, the oceans provide an astonishing 99 percent of the planet’s living space. We have a lot to learn about these complex and fragile environments.