A Norwegian research team has discovered large reserves of metals and minerals under the seabed of the country’s vast continental shelf, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said in a statement on Friday.
The major discovery reportedly offers one of the world’s biggest oil and gas exporters the prospect of extracting “substantial” amounts of minerals, ranging from copper to rare earth metals.
“Of the metals found on the seabed in the study area, magnesium, niobium, cobalt and rare earth minerals are found on the European Commission’s list of critical minerals,” director of technology and analysis at NPD, Kjersti Dahle, said.
According to the preliminary estimates, polymetallic sulphides in remote areas of the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea contain 38 million tons of copper, nearly twice the volume mined globally each year, 45 million tons of zinc, 2,317 tons of gold and 85,000 tons of silver.
The manganese crusts grown on bedrock over millions of years are estimated to hide around 24 million tons of magnesium, 3.1 million tons of cobalt and 1.7 million tons of cerium, a rare earth metal used in alloys. They are also assessed to contain 8.4 million tons of titanium, 1.9 million tons of vanadium, as well as other rare earth metals, such as neodymium, yttrium and dysprosium.
“Costly rare minerals such as neodymium and dysprosium are extremely important for magnets in wind turbines and the engines in electric vehicles,” Dahle said.
Norway is currently considering whether to open its offshore areas to deep-sea mining, a process that requires parliament’s approval and has sparked environmental concerns. Environmental activists have called on Oslo to postpone the seabed mineral exploration until more studies are carried out to understand the organisms living on the seabed and the impact of mining on them.
This article was originally published by RT.