Precautionary management of deep-sea mining
Interest in deep-sea mining developed in the early 1970s, with a focus on manganese nodules in international waters. Mining may actually occur first, however, on rich polymetallic sulfide deposits associated with hydrothermal vents within exclusive economic zones. Even though mining for polymetallic sulfides may not take place for several years, precautionary performance standards, environmental regulations, and the establishment of Marine Protected Areas may help guide the marine mining industry toward a goal of minimizing environmental impacts. Once substantial investments in prospecting and exploring a potential mining site are made, implementation of environmental regulations may prove to be much more difficult.
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