Nov 13, 2018 07:53 PM

China Looks Deep Beneath the Sea to Satisfy Mining Needs

The China Geological Survey's
The China Geological Survey's "Ocean 6" research ship (pictured) has just returned with cobalt crust samples from the western Pacific, Xinhua reported. Photo: VCG

China’s quest for the scarce metals needed to build its burgeoning electric vehicle industry has taken its miners to many remote places, not only on land but also in the darkest depths of the ocean.

Some 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) to 6 kilometers below the waves in some places lie vast concentrations of metals such as copper, nickel and manganese, often in potato-like clusters called polymetallic nodules, that can contain around 30 scarce metal elements combined together. Such riches are drawing in mining companies, which hope diving and technological advances will make these most remote of locations more accessible. But efforts to tap these resources are also raising concerns about potential environmental impacts that have yet to be fully understood.

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