Norway eyes offshore metal mining instead oil despite protests from climate activists



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Norway eyes offshore metal mining instead oil despite protests from climate activists

Amid competing narratives on whether deep sea-bed metal mining ventures could lead to a cascade of catastrophic climate changes, Norway, the natural resource-rich one of the wealthiest countries across the globe, had been dreaming of a mass-scale offshore metal mining following a breakthrough discovery of a large chunk of deep-sea deposits containing rare-earth metals, lithium, copper, zinc, cobalt, silver alongside the precious yellow metal gold.

In point of fact, earlier on Saturday, Norway’s Oil and Energy Ministry said that the Scandinavian country harbouring a whopping $403.3 billion economy, had been brewing off an option to license several companies for deep-sea mining as early as by 2023 which in effect would make Norway the first arctic nation to harvest deep sea-bed metals for e-vehicle batteries, solar farms alongside wind turbines.

Besides, while Oslo has been mulling a leading role in mining deep sea-bed metals in context of an abrupt spike in demands of green technologies, latest remark from the country’s Oil and Energy Ministry came against the backdrop of a Government announcement made earlier this week that said Norway was preparing an environmental impact study on long-term deep sea-bed mining of precious metals.

Norway mulls deep sea-bed metal mining after three years of expedition

In tandem, latest move from the Norwegian Government followed three-year long expedition on arctic sea-beds, while Oslo had claimed to have found a number of deep-sea deposits of high-value industrial metals such as copper, zinc, cobalt, silver and gold.

Apart from that, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTSU), which had conducted the three-year long research work, said that there would be up to 21.7 million tons reserve of copper, higher than the world’s entire copper output in 2019, alongside 22.7 million tons of Zinc in the Norway-controlled arctic water.

Meanwhile, addressing that a havoc-scale deep sea-bed mining of metals could lead to a permanent change in geopolitical climate, an NTSU professor Steinar Loeve Ellefmo who did not take part in the research, said following the Government announcement, “Copper mining inside Norway’s jurisdiction will probably never replace extraction onshore, but ...it can be an important contributor in meeting future global demand.

Deep-sea mining might also change the geopolitical climate. According to NTSU researchers, deep sea-bed metals in Norwegian water were found in the form of polymetallic sulphides, widely known as “black smokers” which are formed when underwater lava is flushed back above seabed carrying metals and sulphur.