Man has always looked on the sea as a provider. In the past it was?
Man has always looked on the sea as a provider. In the past it was food. Now man is looking to the sea as a provider of minerals.
SYNOPSIS: One pilot project exploring the possibilities of winning minerals from the sea bed is being carried out in the Red Sea. The research ship is German. The project was commissioned jointly by Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
The ship is the Sonne, and it's packed with sophisticated scientific gear to carry out the project. The area holding the scientists' interest is the central trench of the Red Sea between Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Recording buoys powered by solar power cells are part of the research carried out by the Sonne's crew. It's estimated that in this area there are several million tonnes of copper, zinc, and silver ore waiting to be extracted from the sludge on the sea bed. Work on the project began in 1969 but the German participation did not began until 1976. Their task is to prove the feasibility of sludge recovery at a depth of two thousand metres.
Once the sludge is lifted it is tested for ore content. So far the results have been promising. But it has yet to be established whether the deposits could be economically worthwhile to exploit. One factor affecting the projects has been the rapid development of marine technology, making it financially worthwhile to exploit smaller, previously untouched deposits.
The samples taken from the sea bed can be analysed immediately in the ship's laboratories. As well as the twenty-five man crew, there are twenty-three scientists on board the Sonne. Once the sludge has been treated it is returned to the sea bed to try to prevent any permanent changes to the environment.