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New directions of exploration

The search for raw materials for natural deposits is a very important matter now. This is due to several very important reasons. At the same time, modern technology and new research allow the search for raw materials, which is more accurate and focused on areas that have so far been excluded from interest, mainly due to their difficult availability. It is worth looking at the topic in a bit more detail.

Searching for deposits of natural resources – ocean concretions

About 30% of the earth’s surface is covered by land, the rest is the ocean. It is also worth emphasizing that the composition of this 30% also includes Antarctica, which is extremely scarce. For this reason, we are increasingly looking to the ocean floor, because potentially so many natural resources can be found there. Many of them have already been discovered, such as crude oil and natural gas, but the search for natural resources is not limited to these two resources. In recent years, the eyes of scientists have been focused on ocean concretions, in particular those that occur in the Pacific in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. The search for the raw materials of the natural resources in this area is not easy because the ocean floor there is on average at a depth of 3,000 meters. Concretions, however, have so much potential that they are systematically tested and the mining technology developed. However, it is worth describing what concretions are. Ocean concretions are mineral formations formed of sediments and other solids suspended in seawater that sink to the bottom. At the bottom, these sediments aggregated into compact lumps that slightly resemble stones. All of this, of course, was under tremendous pressure for millions of years. Oceanic concretions contain many different elements, sometimes very precious and rare. Although the extraction of nodules to the surface is expensive, the content of valuable substances is so high that the process can be profitable.

Brown Fields

The search for deposits of natural resources does not necessarily always mean that we are looking for completely new and unexploited deposits. One thing about deposits is that their exploitation must be profitable, and the ore or other extraction must be in such a state (chemical, mineral composition, etc.) that the available technology can handle it. As we know, the prices of raw materials are changing and, in principle, this is an upward trend, as well as new mining and technological technologies appear. For this reason, sometimes the areas that have already been exploited are returned to, and abandoned for the above-mentioned reasons, i.e. economic and technical. Such places are called “Brown Fields”. Returning to such deposits, however, must be preceded by checking the condition of the deposit and what prospects for further extraction in this area bring with it.

Arctic and Antarctica

The Arctic and Antarctica are two of the coldest areas on Earth and therefore exploring these areas is extremely difficult. Additionally, there is no mainland in the Arctic, so mining must take place from the bottom of a cold ocean that freezes completely in winter. Antarctica is tempting mainly because, although it is completely covered by a thick layer of ice sheet, nobody has ever excavated anything from there, and the geological history of this land suggests that there may be rich deposits of the necessary minerals. Of course, the biggest problem in the exploitation of deposits located in Antarctica is the need to break through the ice and keep alive people who would have to work in such conditions. The large-scale use of autonomous or semi-autonomous robots is considered the most promising.The robots would be much less sensitive to low temperatures and would require fewer people to work on site. Breaking through the ice crust seems to be a seemingly simpler matter, but the ice sheet itself “flows”, so maintaining potential excavations would require constant widening. The average thickness of the ice in Antarctica is 2,000 meters, so digging into the ground in such conditions is a real challenge for scientists and just digging into the ground in such conditions is a real challenge for scientists and just digging into the ground in such conditions is a real challenge for scientists and engineers.

Urban mining

Urban mining is also known as urban mining. In the most general description, it consists in the recovery of raw materials that are currently in use. Contrary to appearances, this is not a marginal topic. As we use more and more raw materials, there are more and more of them in our space, and in addition, this raw material is already processed, so sometimes it is enough to only process it in a steel mill and cast new elements, so the process of giving it a new life is much faster, cheaper and simpler. Urban mining is becoming more and more popular because it does not require very high qualifications. Anyone can obtain resources, you just need to know where to look for them. We are, of course, talking about completely legal sourcing, which is not obvious to some. This is also an issue worth mentioning.