The industrial exploitation of metals from the seabed is approaching


It has been known for more than a century that certain sea floors are strewn with polymetallic nodules, these more or less spherical concretions, the size of a fist or even a cannonball, rich in nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt.

Since Emmanuel Macron announced, last October, an envelope of 300 million euros, within the framework of the France 2030 plan, devoted to “deep seabed” by evoking a “potential access to certain critical metals”the spotlight is once again on the mineral riches of the abyss.

It has been known for more than a century that certain sea floors are strewn with polymetallic nodules, these more or less spherical concretions, the size of a fist or even a cannonball, rich in nickel, manganese, copper and cobalt. If in the 1960s and 1970s, the fear of running out of nickel may have stimulated research on nodules, it is cobalt, a metal used for batteries, strategic for the energy transition, which motivates investors today.

Despite attempts at collection several decades ago, before metal prices fell, there was never any industrial extraction of the nodules. It must be said that they rest…

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