The Cook Islands hopes to transform itself into one of the world\’s richest countries within a decade by sending robots to the sea floor to collect minerals that it believes are worth tens of billions of dollars.
A new geological survey by Imperial College marine geochemist David Cronan estimates that the Cook Islands\’ 2 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone contains 10bn tonnes of manganese nodules. The nodules, which vary from the size of a potato to that of a dining table, contain manganese, nickel, copper, cobalt and rare earth minerals used in electronics. The minerals will be mined using robots first developed for underwater warfare and espionage.
Not wholly convinced to be honest.
Manganese is a couple of thousand $ a tonne. And there\’s plenty of it about. The others, I don\’t know the concentrations but I believe that they\’re trace amounts.
It might work but it simply isn\’t true that having metal in rocks is valuable. It depends upon the processing costs to get the metals out of the rocks. And that\’s the bit I\’m unconvinced about.