The subject could get hot. It is no coincidence that Emmanuel Macron, during its announcement dedicated to the France 2030 investment plan, referred to the upcoming debate. “I’m not talking about exploitation, I’m talking about exploration” he saw fit to clarify at the Elysee, in front of some 200 business leaders and students. Except with the economic pragmatism that we know it, we suspect that this boost to exploration is intended to accelerate the process and shorten the delays before going in search of these deep mineral resources.
The race is on
“All the countries are going there, with much less precautions than France! »Observes an industrialist in the sector. Same story from the Brest researcher Paul Tréguer, who evokes the subject in his latest book. “Deep mineral resources are important and of great interest. Manufacturers and their robots are ready (…). Large groups are preparing to exploit certain deposits ”.
At Ifremer, we remain wisely on the side of efforts to be completed in the exploration of these difficult-to-access areas. “We are making progress in our knowledge of the resource and the functioning of ecosystems” explains Pierre-Marie Sarradin, head of the deep ecosystem studies research unit. “Current knowledge does not make it possible to launch a reasoned operation. So yes, this financial boost is good news for Ifremer teams and all associated scientific resources ”.
Silver, gold, rare earths …
Copper, cobalt, nickel, manganese, zinc, silver, gold, rare earths… The list of precious materials for industry is as long as the most coveted sites are deep. Some areas of interest are located a few hundred meters deep, others in the great oceanic faults coveted by the largest maritime nations.
France’s position could not be more delicate. How can you be the world’s leading defender of natural sites and biodiversity without missing out on the exploitation of these rare resources? How to continue to be the good student of the environment without letting China, the United States, Russia or Japan take the lead in the deep resources? Just for rare earths which allow, for example, the manufacture of mobile phones or magnets for future renewable energies, 90% of production is currently provided by powerful Chinese groups. Emmanuel Macron perfectly understood that industrial sovereignty also went through the control and mastery of the deep sea.