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The race for more battery materials could cause ‘irreversible’ damage under the sea

A close-up of hands wearing black gloves holding a fish with its mouth gaping open.
A deep-water fish, called a Rattail, brought up as part of research into the effects of mining in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean. | Image: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

From electric vehicles to renewable energy, the future runs on batteries. That’s driving soaring demand for raw materials used to make batteries, including nickel, cobalt, and copper. By next year, mining companies could start harvesting those materials from the deep sea at an industrial scale for the first time.

But the damage that would do to ethereal ecosystems on the seafloor could be catastrophic and irreversible, a new report warns. Ocean researchers and advocates are intensifying calls for a deep seabed mining moratorium before it’s too late.

Heated negotiations over a new “mining code” for the deep sea are underway this week in Kingston,…

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