Norway eyes sea change in deep dive for metals instead of oil

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Norway eyes sea change in deep dive for metals instead of oil


Category: Business News

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway’s oil and gas reserves have made it one of the world’s wealthiest countries but its dreams for deep-sea discovery now center on something different.

This time, Oslo is looking for a leading role in mining copper, zinc and other metals found on the seabed and in hot demand in green technologies.

Norway could license companies for deep-sea mining as early as 2023, its oil and energy ministry told Reuters, potentially placing it among the first countries to harvest seabed metals for electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar farms.

That could also place it on the front line of a controversy over the environmental risks posed by exploiting the world’s unexplored seabeds, however.

Norway on Tuesday announced it was starting preparations for an environmental impact study needed to open areas of its seabed mineral exploration and production.

The move follows three years of expeditions on which Norway has found deep-sea deposits containing copper, zinc, cobalt, gold and silver, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate which conducted the work.

There could be up to 21.7 million tonnes of copper – more than the world’s copper output in 2019 – and 22.7 million tonnes of zinc on the Norwegian continental shelf, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) researchers have estimated.

Mean estimates however are far lower, at 6.9 million and 7.1 million tonnes, respectively.

“Copper mining inside Norway’s jurisdiction will probably never replace extraction onshore, but …it can be an important contributor in meeting future global demand,” NTNU Associate Professor Steinar Loeve Ellefmo told Reuters.

“Deep-sea mining might also change the geopolitical climate,” he said.

The metals have been found in polymetallic sulphides, or “black smokers”, which are formed when sea water reaches magma, heats up and is flushed back to the seabed carrying dissolved metals and sulphur.

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Source: Reuters

Published: December 1, 2021