Metals are fundamental components of modern society worldwide, and, despite the current economic downturn, we know we will be faced with ever increasing demands and ever-shrinking supplies. Efforts to achieve sustainable supplies of minerals must include efforts to expand the supply. About 60% of the ocean surface consists of the ocean floor, so it is reasonable to expect that deep ocean minerals could contribute significantly to the world supply. Human efforts to recover minerals have thus far concentrated almost exclusively on land-based resources, so it is reasonable to postulate that marine minerals might offer better prospects for future mineral supplies than land prospects. Currently, we know of at least six separate categories of marine minerals: 1. Aggegrate sand and gravel deposits; 2. Placer deposits of relatively high value minerals (gold, diamonds, tin, etc) hosted in aggegrates; 3. Biogenically derived phosphate deposits; 4. Sediment-hosted (manganese nodules) and hard-rock hosted (ferromanganese crusts) ferromanganese oxide deposits; 5. Sediment-hosted methane hydrate deposits; and 6. Hydrothermally derived sulfide deposits of copper, gold, nickel, zinc, and other metals. Thanks primarily to the engineering developments made by the offshore oil industry and the computer-science advances that have revolutionized much of modern society, the technology is in place for most of the tasks of deep seabed mining. The objective here is not to provide a general status update regarding marine minerals technology, but simply to demonstrate, using the best example available to date (the Nautilus Minerals venture in the Territorial Waters of Papua New Guinea) that the technology is in place and ready to go. Development of marine minerals has both the curse and blessing of taking place in the ocean. Since the 1970’s and before, the marine environment has taken on a public aura reserved more commonly for religious beliefs. This aura poses substantial obstacles to any marine development efforts. At the same time, a basic advantage of marine mineral developments is that nobody lives there. Thus, marine mining activities will not conflict with most normal human activities. Marine mining proposals should be subjected to thorough impact assessment analysis, but it is also critical that policymakers take steps to provide a level playing field for marine developments that encourages objective comparisons with alternative land-based proposals for supplying needed mineral resources. Governments should foster reasonable access to the marine mineral resources under their jurisdiction while also supporting incentive policies and related research programs.

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