Findings from a comparative study of land ores vs. ocean nodules to build one billion electric vehicle batteries.

Sourcing battery metals from nodules can eliminate solid waste generation.

Impacts such as use and pollution of land, forests, water and soil are far more substantial with terrestrial mining, which is the largest waste producer on the planet. Producing metals from nodules would eliminate solid waste generation and significantly reduce ecotoxicity of soil and water as well as SOx and NOx emissions.

94% LESS LAND USED

To make one billion EV batteries from land-based mining would require 156,000 KM2 — roughly the size of England and Wales. Due to the two-dimensional nature of the nodule resource, producing metals from nodules would impact a larger area of seabed, but would leave terrestrial ecosystems largely untouched with the exception of land required for processing nodules once onshore.

Carbon Footprint

70% LESS - CO2 making EV battery materials from
polymetallic nodules.
94% LESS - Stored CO2 at risk with nodule collection.

Mining ores from land requires much more energy, effort, infrastructure and transport, which lead to greater emissions. Carbon sequestration is also greatly impacted by land-based mining, while there is no known mechanism for disturbed carbon to reach the atmosphere from the deep seabed (>4km deep).

92% LESS DEFORESTATION

When deriving metals from polymetallic nodules.
Through land mining, we damage 92% more area of forest than we would if we use nodules to source battery metals. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many other competing uses and pressures for forests, including as carbon sinks, for agriculture and natural reserves.

93% LESS
WILDLIFE AT RISK

44 trillion less megafauna are affected by collecting nodules for 1bn EV batteries.

Given the seabed is a sparsely populated, food-poor environment, the megafauna population at risk from nodule collection is significantly lower. However, more research is needed on the role of important species in deep seabed ecosystems.

JOB SAFETY

Anticipated Fatalities
Land Mining - 1800
In Collecting Ocean Nodules
97% Less - 47

NO CHILD LABOR

Child labour often used in cobalt mining.
No child labour used to collect ocean nodules.

WHERE SHOULD METALS FOR THE GREEN TRANSITION COME FROM?

To make one billion EV batteries from land-based mining would require 156,000 KM2 — roughly the size of England and Wales. Due to the two-dimensional nature of the nodule resource, producing metals from nodules would impact a larger area of seabed, but would leave terrestrial ecosystems largely untouched with the exception of land required for processing nodules once onshore.