Australian Company to Mine Ocean Floor

Scientists split on project

USS Cleveland anchored off the coast of Papua New Guinea

USS Cleveland anchored off the coast of Papua New Guinea     Photo: U.S. Navy Images/Flickr

An Australian company plans to mine for minerals on the ocean floor near Papua New Guinea next year. Nautilus Minerals obtained a license for a in 30-month pilot project to mine a 23-acre section of seafloor for copper, gold, zinc, and silver deposits left behind by an undersea hot spring. The company will use remotely operated vehicles to break up rock, which will then be sucked up to a mining vessel by a riser pipe. Scientists are split on the project, which will disturb undersea vents. "They are one of the wonders of the Earth to be preserved, as far as I'm concerned," says George Woodwell, one of the founders of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The company, which plans to begin operations in late 2013, still needs to raise at least $90 million to fund the project.

Read more at NPR

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