Treasure Cruisin’. . .Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

By Rick Mendenhall

Call them Ishmael. Or Ahab. Possibly Jack Sparrow?  Maybe all of the above. Since the 1960’s, large transnational companies have foamed at the mouth for the chance to deep-sea mine for precious minerals like manganese, copper, and gold. The underwater gold rush, however, never materialized. Affordable technology that would enable an undersea treasure cruise just did not exist.
That is, until now.

Equipped with new technology and a larger demand for precious metals, companies are acting like it’s the Summer of Love. The UN’s International Seabed Authority has even approved mineral exploration licenses.

But it’s not all peace, love, and Jimi Hendrix. Scientists are anxious about the impact on deep sea ecosystems, and New Zealand’s Environmental Protection recently struck down a deep sea mining contract because of its potential effect on the environment.

Recognizing the tension and the lack of an international legal framework on deep sea mining, the American Society for International Law is hosting a brown bag lunch at the Tillar House on December 9th devoted to ocean mining. Please join them for a rousing discussion!