Should It be on Land Or at Seabed?
The study uses a “lifecycle sustainability analysis” and “standard lifecycle analysis” framework that provides an in-depth comparison of the cradle-to-gate impacts of producing metals from land ores and polymetallic nodules, both sources of the nickel, cobalt, copper, and manganese which are required to build one billion EV batteries.
Polymetallic nodules sitting on top of the seabed can be collected without drilling or having to move rocks or dirt. They are made of almost 100% usable minerals, compared to ores mined from the land which have increasingly low yields (often below 1%).
The researchers examine the relative impacts of the extraction, processing and refining of these key base metals on several impact categories, including: greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration, ecosystem services, non-living resources and habitats, biodiversity, human health and economics.
The main conclusion: getting the metals from ocean nodules would be better. There is less net cost for society, including the environment we rely on, mining metals from the ocean — according to these researchers.
More specific findings are that obtaining the metals from the ocean result in:
- 70% less CO2e direct emissions
- 94% less stored carbon at risk
- 90% reduction in SOx and NOx emissions
- 100% reduction in solid waste
- 94% less land use
- 93% less wildlife at risk
The study provides the broader context for a deeper, multi-year environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) being conducted by DeepGreen, in what the company says will be the largest integrated seabed-to-surface deep-ocean science program ever conducted, with over 100 separate studies being undertaken.
DeepGreen aims to have the world generate at least 75% less CO2 using these nodules for EV battery metals than we would create using ores from land-based mines.
That would also mean not taking advantage of indigenous peoples, enrolling child labor, and better safety regulations in the sector.
Reference- Clean Technica, DeepGreen Whitepaper & Website