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NORWAY MULLS DEEP SEA MINING FOR METALS, RARE EARTHS


Norway’s oil and gas reserves have made it one of the world’s wealthiest countries but its dreams for deep-sea discovery now center on something different. This time, Oslo is looking for a leading role in mining copper, zinc and other rare earth metals found on the seabed and in hot demand in green technologies, Nerijus Adomaitis reported for Reuters.

Norway could license companies for deep-sea mining as early as 2023, its oil and energy ministry told Reuters, potentially placing it among the first countries to harvest seabed metals for electric vehicle batteries, wind turbines and solar farms. That could also place it on the front line of a controversy over the environmental risks posed by exploiting the world’s unexplored seabeds, however.


On Tuesday, Oslo announced it was starting preparations for an environmental impact study needed to open areas of its seabed mineral exploration and production. The move follows three years of expeditions on which Norway has found deep-sea deposits containing copper, zinc, cobalt, gold and silver, according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate which conducted the work.


There could be up to 21.7 million tons of copper - more than the world’s copper output in 2019 - and 22.7 million tons of zinc on the Norwegian continental shelf, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) researchers have estimated.


The expeditions have also discovered high concentrations of lithium and the rare earth metal scandium used in electronics and alloys in manganese crusts which grow on bedrock, the Directorate said. Norway has mapped these deposits along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between Jan Mayen Island and the Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian Sea as far as 700 kilometers (435 miles) offshore.



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