The key metals necessary to advance the global energy transition will likely drive the next commodity supercycle. Soaring demand for lithium, copper, nickel, cobalt, and aluminum could lead to a battery metal supply crunch as early as this decade, while surging prices could reverse a decade of cost declines, analysts say. In a world increasingly focused on sustainability and ethically-sourced raw materials, some players in the metal mining industry believe that deep seabed mining operations in remote ocean areas could have a lower impact and lower costs than the land mining of key battery minerals—minerals associated with child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, the world’s top producer of cobalt.
However, deep seabed mining is years away from commercial operations, at best, due to a lack of international regulations and concerns about the environmental impact of mineral extraction from the seabed in areas and ecosystems that are yet to be studied by marine biologists.
Some companies are betting on starting deep-sea mining in a couple of years. The Metals Company, for example, which just began trading on the NASDAQ, said last week it is working to “move the world’s largest estimated source of battery metals into production.”
“We believe we have a solution that is more scalable, secure, lower cost and lower impact than mining these minerals on land: We can produce battery metals from high-grade polymetallic nodules found on the seafloor in the...
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