A strong increase in the global demand for metallic raw materials, coupled with rising market prices, has heightened interest in marine seabed mineral deposits and the feasibility of their extraction for many marine scientists, engineers, and mining companies. This interest focuses not only on base and precious metals but also on strategically important elements needed for high-technology applications, such as cobalt, nickel, molybdenum, titanium, gallium, selenium, telurium, indium, and the rare earth elements.

A symposium and workshop on deep-sea minerals and mining was convened at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen, in Germany. More than 100 scientists from 16 countries assembled to discuss the opportunities and challenges of interdisciplinary research concerning deep-ocean mineral resources. Two days of plenary talks presented by invited experts representing diverse disciplines were followed by a 1-day workshop to discuss the current knowledge; to develop research strategies that address emerging exploration and recovery techniques; and to assess economic, legal, and ecological issues inherent in deep-sea mining.