The near exponential growth in Earth's population and the global economy puts increasing constraints on our planet's finite supply of natural metal resources, and, consequently, there is an increasing need for new sources to supply high-tech industries. To date, effectively all of our raw-metal resources are produced at land-based sites. Except for nearshore placer deposits, the marine environment has been largely excluded from metal mining due to technological difficulties, even though it covers more than 70% of the planet. The case can be made that deep-water seabed mining is inevitable in the future, owing to the critical and strategic metal needs for human society. In this paper, we evaluate the case that seamounts offer significant potential for mining. deposits can be formed in volcanic arc seamounts, no commercially viable deposits have yet been identified in the submarine environment. However, a substantial body of research suggests that hydrogenous Fe-Mn crusts may provide significant resources, especially for "high-tech metals" that are increasingly used in solar cells, computer chips, and hydrogen fuel cells.
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Seamount mineral deposits: A source of rare metals for high-technology industries