Written by Kristen Kusek, Communications Director for USF CMS
ST, PETERSBURG, FL – Registration is open for the 49th Annual Underwater Mining Conference (UMC), co-hosted by the International Marine Minerals Society (IMMS) and the USF College of Marine Science. UMC will take place in person and online from September 27-October 2, 2020 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Conference will be held at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club. The Vinoy staff and conference organizers will ensure that federal and state-issued health and safety guidelines for COVID-19 will be strictly enforced. The UMC 2020 team will also host the conference virtually should that be necessary for attendees that cannot travel to the conference in Florida.
All conference details, including registration information, can be found at www.underwatermining.org. The organizers and hotel staff are prepared to be flexible with all potential cancellations and refund policies.
“This conference has historically been the largest gathering of ocean mineral stakeholders in the world,” said Greg Stemm, president of IMMS. “Whether we hold the conference in person or virtually, we commit to continuing to foster the rich exchange of information and ideas that was started more than 50 years ago.”
The conference has drawn together scientists and world leaders from government, academia, and industry in more than 25 countries to discuss all aspects of underwater mineral exploration, environmental research, and mineral extraction technology since 1970.
This year’s conference, “Marine Minerals: Solutions for Building a Green Energy Future,” addresses the green technology conundrum, said Dr. Mark Luther, conference co-organizer and professor at the USF College of Marine Science.
New technologies such as cell phones, solar panels, and electric cars require metals such as cobalt, but these have traditionally been mined from land reserves in countries that in some cases carry light, if any, environmental protections. Reports abound of forests and villages in the Congo and elsewhere being cleared in environmentally unsustainable ways to extract increasingly smaller amounts of land-based, strategically important minerals. That, coupled with political and social issues in the region, have created concern about relying on these sources.
“Many of us have turned our attention to the seafloor, where we find these minerals in quantities and quality that are increasingly difficult to find in terrestrial sites,” Luther said. “One of the major reasons this conference is to bring together the world’s leading ocean scientists and specialists to discuss the most current data and information relating to these deposits. This will help form sensible policies to determine whether these vast resources from the ocean can be recovered in an environmentally responsible manner,” he said.
Some of the deepest parts of the seafloor are covered by dense deposits of polymetallic nodules, which contain richer stores of valuable metals like cobalt and nickel than many found on land. The nodules range in size from a golf ball to a potato and are in some respects the “low-hanging fruit” because they can be raked into baskets without any kind of drilling or strip mining and with much smaller carbon footprints than operations on land, Luther said. “We’ve known about them since the Challenger Expedition in the 1870s and our current goal is to establish whether these can be excavated and processed in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” he said.
Among the topics to be discussed at the conference are regulatory considerations related to mineral resource extraction, the technological challenges of conducting scientific surveys, and general policy considerations related to the long-term development of these resources.
For information about the conference, including registration, sponsorships and volunteer opportunities, contact:
Laura Azevedo, UMC Manager
Ph: +1 .727.631.9579