Manganese nodule with traces of cobalt and copper: rare earths in the deep sea
Photo: Ingo Wagner / picture alliance / dpa
Large amounts of valuable raw materials, including rare earths, copper and cobalt, are apparently stored off the coast of Norway.
This was the result of a study by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).
"Among the metals found in the area covered by the investigation are magnesium, niobium, cobalt and rare earths that are on the EU Commission's list of scarce minerals," the organization said.
According to the estimates, up to 38 million tons of copper could be stored under the seabed, about twice the amount that is currently mined annually.
In addition, 45 million tons of zinc are suspected.
In addition, 1.7 million tons of cerium are assumed, which belongs to the rare earths and is used, among other things, in aluminum processing.
Funding options unclear
A few weeks ago, Sweden reported a large discovery of rare earths.
However, these are stored near the iron ore mines of Kiruna, which have been in operation for a long time.
Rare earths and other raw materials in Europe are coming more into focus as the EU wants to become less dependent on producing countries like China.
The Nordic country, a major oil and gas exporter, has long considered opening up its offshore areas to undersea mining.
It would be a process that would require Parliament's approval and has raised environmental concerns.
Norwegian environmental groups warn against further exploration of the seabed until more studies are available to analyze the impact of mining.
The Norwegian Institute for Marine Research (IMR) also warned that there is still a lack of knowledge about life in the deep sea.
The Petroleum Directorate NPD also admitted that further investigations are needed in order to be able to estimate how many of the materials could be mined under acceptable environmental conditions.