Environmental impacts and risks of deep-sea mining

2018 - 2022


In the second project phase of MiningImpact, we will extend our previous work towards three major research interests concerning deep-sea mining: (1) the larger scale environmental impact caused by the suspended sediment plume, (2) the regional connectivity of species and the biodiversity of biological assemblages and their resilience to impacts, and (3) the integrated effects on ecosystem functions, such as the benthic foodweb and biogeochemical processes. In this context, key objectives of the project are:

  • To develop and test monitoring concepts and strategies for deep-sea mining operations

  • To develop standardization procedures for monitoring and definitions for indicators of a

    good environmental status

  • To investigate potential mitigation measures, such as spatial management plans of

    mining operations and means to facilitate ecosystem recovery

  • To develop sound methodologies to assess the environmental risks and estimate

    benefits, costs and risks

  • To explore how uncertainties in the knowledge of impacts can be implemented into

    appropriate regulatory framework 

While the first project phase could investigate only experimental and/or rather small-scale disturbances of the seafloor, in the second phase a comprehensive monitoring program will be devoted to the industrial test of the prototype nodule collector system of the Belgian contractor DEME-GSR. The test intends to harvest nodules in approx. 300x300m2 large areas of the seabed in the Belgian and the German contract areas of the CCZ. Thus, MiningImpact 2 will collect independent scientific information on the environmental impacts of this operation. Here, the primary focus is on constraining and quantifying the temporal dynamics and characteristics of the suspended sediment plume, the spatial footprint of the deposited sediment blanket, and the induced effects on the abyssal ecosystem. Thus, MiningImpact 2 will be able to further close existing knowledge gaps and reduce uncertainties on the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules.

Welcome to MiningImpact - Sonne Expedition 268


Key Facts

National Funding through JPI Oceans

Partners: 30

Start Date: 08-2018

End Date: 02-2022

Cruise: SO268 and MANGAN 2021

Project Phase 1

The JPI Oceans Pilot Action "Ecological Aspects of Deep-Sea Mining" assesses the ecological impacts which could arise from commercial mining activities in the deep-sea. Core of the project are three expeditions visiting several nodule license areas and a protected area in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) as well as the disturbance and recolonization experiment (DISCOL) in the Peru Basin, which was conducted 26 years ago.

For information about 'Phase 1' of the MiningImpact project see here!



SO295 - BLOG

Please find all updates on the ongoing SO295 expedition here on

2nd prize in JPI Oceans
Art and Photo Awards

Autun Purser (AWI) wins the 2nd prize of the JPI-Oceans Art and Photo Awards in the JPI-Oceans project category. Congratulations, Autun! Please find the winning entries here.

Stakeholder Event and Final Project Meeting 2022

The final Stakeholder Event and project meeting of the 2nd phase of MiningImpact took place on February 1-2, 2022 (via ZOOM). The presentations are now available on the event page

Expedition videos

The video interviews with the MiningImpact scientists filmed onboard expedition SO268 (2019) are finally online. Learn more about their work on board here! You can also find new videos showing the disturbed and undisturbed seafloor from expeditions SO239 and SO242 (both 2015).


Mineral Resources of the Deep Sea - Formation, Potential and Risks (brochure)