Who’d have thought that the UN would prove to be such a constant source of weird news? We’ve been keeping an eye on them since last week’s announcement that the UN would like us all to start eating insects, and it’s paid off already with the news of their latest plan: to extract gold from the surface of the sea bed. What starts off sounding like a scheme dreamed up by a Captain Planet baddie – “I will steal precious metals from the dolphins, bwahaha!” - actually starts to make sense when you see the numbers. It turns out, the ocean floor is, well, a goldmine. As well as the more obvious precious metals, the sea bed is littered with mineral-rich rocks (called “nodules,” because, science), with one 3 million square mile patch in the Eastern Pacific containing an estimated 27 billion tons of the things. According to this BBC report, that would yield “seven billion tons of manganese, 340 million tons of nickel, 290 tons of copper, and 78 million tons of cobalt,” which are probably very large and exciting numbers if you have any clue as to what they’d use all that stuff for (we don’t).
Photo: Xinhua / Landov | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
There are currently dozens of prospecting licenses being handed out (including one to a subsidiary of enormo-weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin), so if you own a submarine with a built-in shovel, plus a few million bucks to splash around (literally!), now’s a good time to start planning your expedition. Of course, if you don’t feel like mining, you could always buy a patch of ocean floor and then try your luck with treasure hunting. According to Popular Mechanics, there are over a million shipwrecks out there, with around $60 billion in unclaimed treasure. That’s enough cash to get anybody a little wet.