Environmental Impact Of Underwater Gold Mining

Good Essays
Conner Sheahan
Section B06
April 28, 2015
Word Count:
Environmental Impacts of Underwater Gold Mining The ocean covers over seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, yet humans know very little about it and its contents. With over half of the species in the ocean still undiscovered, the ocean remains a mystery, with much more to be learned about what it possesses. The ocean is home to not only life, but to natural resources. Some of the resources possessed within the ocean are minerals, such as salt, sand, gravel, and some manganese, copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, gold, diamonds, and silver [1]. Valuable crude oil is drilled from the ocean floor, and the ocean continues to produce a significant amount of oxygen for the planet. One of
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Nautilus’ system starts with the Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) which are located at the bottom of the sea floor approximately 1600 meters deep (about 1 mile). These SPTs are the “nozzles” of this system as they agitate the seafloor, allowing the extraction of nearly everything that the SPTs dislodge, creating this slurry filled with multiple precious and non-precious metals. The SPTs are connected by large pipes to a Subsea Slurry Lift Pump (SSLP), which is basically a big pump that sends the slurry up the Riser and Lifting System (RALS) and into the ship on the ocean surface. The ship, known as the Production Support Vessel (PSV), is heart of the operation and where production starts. The slurry mixture, comprised of copper, gold, silver, zinc, and sand is separated on the vessel and all of the material in the slurry are used or sold. The precious metals are used or sold to buyers throughout the world, and the sand and other non-precious minerals are used for concrete production. This type of operation is nearly one hundred percent efficient as every part of the slurry is used and sold [3]. Although this form of mining is profitable and nearly one hundred percent effective, this process may greatly disturb the ocean floor. The environmental impacts of this mining process can be minimized but are still relatively impactful. The ocean has already been damage by overfishing, industrial waste, debris and
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