Far out in the Atlantic Ocean, east of New York and Boston, beyond the continental shelf, beyond the deep sea canyons known as Hudson, Hydrographers, and Oceanographers Canyons, four seamounts arise ten thousand feet off of the abyssal sea floor: Bear, Physalia, Mytilus, and Retriever. Gnarly with much surface areas, seamounts are made of basalt rock with a remarkable porosity of 60%, a multitude of surfaces.
This very hard extrusive igneous rock sponges out of seawater rare earth minerals (cerium, europium, lanthanum, and yttrium) and high tech metals (tellurium, cobalt, bismuth, zirconium, niobium, tungsten, molybdenum, platinum, titanium, and thorium). Standing deep in seawater for more than 40 million years, Atlantic seamounts have accreted onto fractal seascapes significant amounts of high tech metals.
The mineral mining eye of the solar cell industry has turned to these four Atlantic Ocean seamounts.
As part of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument these four seamount are protected.
Yet, the current administration wants to close this ocean refuge, remove the marine monument, and release the wrecking ball of high-tech metal mining. This will destroy the unique assemblages of marine life living deep below the sea’s surface on Bear, Physalia, Mytilus, and Retriever Seamounts.
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High tech metals are refined and combined into alloys. Tellurium combined with bismuth becomes an alloy that is being tested as a next-generation computer chip that is more efficient and immensely faster than existing chips. Tellurium is combined with cadmium into an alloy that is considered the best material for production of multi-terawatt solar-cell electricity using thin-film photovoltaic technology.
Current practices It is more expensive to use tellurium mined from ancient seamounts in China. China refuses to export their rare minerals, requiring the manufacturing of solar chips and next-generation computer chips to remain in China. Strip mining the seamounts will go unnoticed because the highest summits are still over 1,000 feet below the surface. It would be more regulated, create more jobs, and totally more expensive to mine tellurium from ancient seamounts in Sierra Mountains of California. And everyone must have cheap solar panels to save the planet while saving on utility bills and increasing consumption of energy.
Mining seamounts for high tech metals may be good for the solar-cell industry. An industry receiving government subsidies. Mining seamounts is not good for fisheries, an industry without subsidies and much regulation by government. Mining seamounts is not good for the economies of coastal communities.
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