A Green Treasure Trove

By Alex Gryciuk 

Earlier this year, studies conducted on the Noreighen seabed discovered large volumes of extremely valuable mineral deposits that will be essential to green energy production in the near future. Deposits are estimated to include copper, zinc, lithium, cobalt, and various other rare Earth elements, also known as REEs. In fact, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, who conducted the survey of the ocean floor, found that “manganese nodules, manganese crusts, and sulphides” were the three deposits most dense with minerals. In total, the underwater surface is estimated to contain around “3.1 million tonnes of cobalt, 230,000 tonnes of lithium, 24 million tonnes of magnesium, 8.4 million tonnes of titanium” along with millions of tonnes of rare Earth elements like neodymium and dysprosium. 

With the country and world moving toward a “greener” future, mineral deposits such as the ones surveyed are expected to be in high demand. According to Innovation News Network, “magnets in wind turbines and engines in electric vehicles” need the rare Earth elements such as neodymium and dysprosium for production. Using high amounts of “lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, and graphite,” eco-friendly car batteries will require an influx of these materials as demand increases over the next few years. Overall, with more initiatives like the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 that provides $369 billion for climate and clean energy provisions,” it is clear that the production of more “green” energy batteries and generators will require the materials discovered in Norwegian waters. 

The desire for mining on the deep-sea floor has not been uncontested however. For concerns about marine life, environmental groups such as Norway’s Institute of Marine Research advocate for more research before extracting materials. They say, “there may be undiscovered species in the ocean, which could also be affected by mineral exploration.” Due to their efforts, companies have halted plans for extraction until they can ensure that wildlife can be least impacted by the activity on the ocean floor.