(dpa) – Germany is testing the mining of the metal manganese in the deep seas as part of a European research project, the Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) said on Wednesday.
Until May, a special device to collect so-called nodules of manganese from the ocean floor is to be tested in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico, BGR said in a statement.
The nodules contain crude materials – such as nickel, copper and cobalt – that are used in electronic appliances and as part of renewable energy technology.
The collector device is to be lowered 4,500 metres into the sea to suck in the nodules, together with two diving robots and around 40 sensors on the seabed, BGR said.
A team of 23 scientists on board the Norwegian vessel Island Pride is to research the environmental impact of the operation in what is the first trial of its kind, according to BGR.
But the environmental organization Greenpeace has warned against the effects of deep-sea mining.
“Industrial deep-sea mining would accelerate the rapid extinction of species in the oceans. This ecological catastrophe must be prevented,” Greenpeace marine biologist Sandra Schoettner said.
Since 2006, BGR has been conducting research on manganese mining on behalf of the German government based on a contract with the International Seabed Authority that allows authorities to explore 75,000 square kilometres for manganese nodules and research the environmental impact. The contract expires in July.
The aim is to secure Germany’s long-term supply of raw materials, for which until now it has relied on imports.