The United States depends almost entirely on imports for some of its minerals and metals. In 1976, for instance, this country imported 98 percent of its manganese, 98 percent of its cobalt, and 71 percent of its nickel--metals that are necessary to the electrical industry and in the manufacture of steel and steel alloys. While the United States is presently self-sufficient in copper, imports of this metal have been rising in recent years. In 1974, the value of copper imports declined due mainly to a worldwide recession, but betweenn 1969 and 1974 the value of refined copper imports increased at a rate of almost 24 percent a year. Thus, a potential dependence on imports of copper cannot be dismissed. Other minerals are in short supply. For example, sand and gravel, as well as construction aggregates, are becoming more scarce or more costly to acquire. Many existing land sites are being rapidly depleted or, because of their nearness to expanding urban areas, are being taken over for housing or industrial pruposes. The oceans represent the biggest potential storehouse for many of these metals and minerals. Nickel, copper, colbalt, and manganese are to be found in manganese nodules that lie on the ocean floor. At least four U.S. based companies and their international partners recognize the economic potential of these nodules and have been involved in exploration and research and development program to mine them for the ocean depths. Sand and gravel, in addition to placers, shell, and phosphate rock, are located in the shallow and intermediate waters off the continental United States, its islands and territories, and the state of Hawaii. However, the exploration and recovery operations for these materials does not match in size the effort being expended by the deep ocean mining industry for manganese nodules. The sand, gravel, and shell shallow-water dredging industry consists of small companies, geographically scattered, with limited capabilities for major developmental work. As a result of the increasing interest and activity in ocean mining, the Administrator of the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requested the National Research Council to review the technology and technical services needed for the orderly development of an ocean mining industry and the methodology for determining the possible encironmental impact of such activities. Accordingly, the Marine Board of the NRC appointed a special ppanel that initiated a study of the problems in June 1976.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 72 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00765222
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jun 22 1999 12:00AM