Deep-Sea Mining


Our scientists have joined DeepGreen Metals Inc's deep-sea discovery programme to quantify and characterise the environmental consequences of deep-sea mining in the Pacific Ocean; specifically the potential impacts of lifting polymetallic nodules from the bottom of the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ).  

DeepGreen is a Canada-based battery metals start-up, which believes that polymetallic nodules – a rich, concentrated source of nickel, copper, manganese and cobalt – present significant opportunities to reduce the most serious impacts that arise from mining metals on land. It has invested over $60 million USD to accelerate its environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) for its proposed collection project from the deep seabed of the CCZ.

Ground-breaking in scope and scale, over 100 researchers are involved from the Lyell Centre, UK National Oceanography Centre, Natural History Museum (London), University of Gothenburg, University of Leeds, Florida State University, University of Hawaii, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, and Texas A&M. The programme will answer many important questions about biodiversity and ecosystem processes in deep water and how best to protect this environment.

Professor Andrew Sweetman's role is to assess sediment biogeochemistry and seafloor ecosystem function using state-of-the-art seafloor landers, as well as documenting the biodiversity of seafloor predators and scavengers using specialised deep-sea video platforms. Professor Ted Henry is leading ecotoxicological investigations to determine the effects of toxicants and disturbances associated with deep-sea mining activity, on critical organisms that inhabit these unique ecosystems.

The project will make a significant contribution to wider science, characterising the marine environment from the seabed of the abyssal plain through the water column to the surface of the ocean, studying everything from microbes to whales. All output and data generated will be shared with the international community, advancing the fields of ocean science, medicine and technology.

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Total award: £200K
Funder: NERC
Lead: Professor Andrew Sweetman

Contact our Global Research, Innovation and Discovery team about research collaboration and business partnership opportunities at