By Wes Chun, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer
Manganese is found in over 300 different minerals and is the fifth most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. It belongs in Group 7 of the periodic table which includes the extremely rare rhenium, synthetically produced bohrium, and technetium which is found in trace amounts as a product of spontaneous fission in laboratories. Manganese (Mn) is a hard, brittle, and silvery metal that is most often found in minerals combined with iron. The main mining areas for manganese are in Africa, Australia, China and Gabon. Manganese is also found in alternating layers with iron in polymetallic nodules found in shallow and deep waters of oceans and some lakes. These manganese nodules are found in sizeable deposits near the Cook Islands, midway between Hawaii and the Clipperton Islands, the Peru basin, southern Indian Ocean, and in the Eastern Pacific. All but the Cook Islands are in international waters and could be mined as early as 2026 depending on the establishment of regulations, standards, and guidelines established for deep sea mining.