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View Full Version : Deep Sea Mining-- for what?



lonestarlibrarian
12-14-2018, 03:01 AM
I'm writing a sci-fi story that has a company that does deep-sea mining. Maybe on this planet, maybe some other aquatic alien planet, it doesn't really matter.

When I research about real deep-sea mining, I read about rare earths and things like that-- but they're too cost-prohibitive to really pursue with current technology.

When I start trying to look up rare, valuable minerals that would be worth the effort, I keep running into qualities like "corrodes in water" or "unstable in water" or "catches fire in water" or whatever. :P So I don't want to accidentally pick the wrong thing that would make a reader go, "What?" if I talk about how it gets dredged from the mud, etc.

I can be obvious and boring, and do something like deep-sea gold, or deep-sea diamonds, or something instantly recognizable as "Oh, that's valuable." Or I can be make up my own element/mineral that people of the future rely on for some sort of technology.

But is there something that's a bit arcane, but perhaps even more valuable than diamonds or gold, that I could pick instead, that would sound a bit more science-y and less generic-adventure-y?

Suggestions are appreciated!

Helix
12-14-2018, 03:22 AM
This article gives a bit of info about target minerals in deep sea mining. (Also the issues associated with it.)

https://www.australianmining.com.au/features/sea-change-mining/


Polymetallic nodules, located up to 6000 metres under the sea surface, form from metal collected on debris and detritus on the seabed, and can contain rich deposits of copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium, all of which are in-demand components for clean energy technology and electric vehicle production; ferromanganese crusts that form on the seabed surface are abundant in rare earth elements such as tellurium, useful for the production of solar cells.


Nautilus indicated resources of 7.2 per cent copper, five grams of gold per tonne, 23 grams of silver per tonne and 0.4 per cent zinc over one million tonnes of initial findings, with inferred resources of 8.1 per cent copper, 6.4 grams of gold per tonne, 23 grams of silver per tonne, and 0.9 per cent of zinc over another 1.5 million tonnes.

Chris P
12-14-2018, 03:28 AM
Doesn't manganese exist as nodules in the ocean? To avoid the issue of water, perhaps your water-reactive element exists in ore form (just like bauxite for aluminum, hematite for iron, etc. do) that is stable in water. The extracted ore is then smelted at the surface.

Or, you could devise some fictional mineral that some fictional technology requires, but that only forms at high temp and pressue at ocean floor volcanic vents. I think you have a lot of options here.

Patty
12-14-2018, 03:42 AM
Methane hydrate / methane clathrate are being mined, especially in the eastern pacific. I think the japanese folks are all over this. It's another hydrocarbon energy source. Like oil.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-39971667

frimble3
12-14-2018, 10:02 AM
What if your deep-sea s.f. mining takes place on another planet where there was a vast naval battle, or a lot of space-ships shot into the sea? Perhaps those ships now have some value, like ships sunk on Earth before the nuclear bomb tests were used for specialized equipment that needed a low-radiation profile?
Either the metal of the ships, or 'ancient' or 'alien' tech?

waylander
12-14-2018, 12:52 PM
When I start trying to look up rare, valuable minerals that would be worth the effort, I keep running into qualities like "corrodes in water" or "unstable in water" or "catches fire in water" or whatever. :P So I don't want to accidentally pick the wrong thing that would make a reader go, "What?" if I talk about how it gets dredged from the mud, etc.
Suggestions are appreciated!

The metals may be unstable in water but their ores won't be and its the ore you're after.

WilkinsonMJ
12-14-2018, 04:00 PM
Exactly what Waylander said. Damn near every metal exists as ore whether on land or under the sea so if you can find the right kind of ore then I'm sure that would work. I also like Frimble's idea of slavaging technology but obviously that's entirely up to you! Best of luck with the story

Ztwist
12-14-2018, 04:04 PM
Iridium! A rare earth metal. could be connected to meteorites or craters. Check out wikipedia.

WeaselFire
12-14-2018, 04:59 PM
When I research about real deep-sea mining, I read about rare earths and things like that-- but they're too cost-prohibitive to really pursue with current technology.

You're writing about deep sea mining, possibly on another planet, and you're worried about current technology? :)

Jeff

lonestarlibrarian
12-14-2018, 08:07 PM
Haha, no. I was shuffling my thoughts and got called away from the computer, and hit "post" before I realized I hadn't finished deleting some extraneous information. :)


I'm enjoying everyone's input, thank you.