Dr. Luise Heinrich

Research Focus

Deep-sea mining: Interdisciplinary Assessment of Deep-Sea Mining Impacts: From Science to Policy and Implications for Sustainable Development

After having graduated from Jacobs University Bremen with a B.Sc. in Integrated Environmental Studies in 2013 and from Lund University with an M.Sc. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science, I returned to JUB to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Prof. Koschinsky’s work group.

My Ph.D., which I completed in July 2021, focused on deep-sea mining – specifically on its environmental, economic, and social impacts and its implications for sustainable develoopment.

Deep-sea mining describes the retrieval of mineral resources from the seafloor at water depth of up to 6,000 m. In my work, I focus on the retrieval of manganese nodules from the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean between Mexico and Hawaii, where high abundances of these small metal-containing rock structures occur.

As part of my PhD project, I estimated the level of greenhouse gases and air pollution emitted during the mining of manganese nodules at the seafloor and their transport to shore. In the absence of commercial mining operations, I developed several scenarios based on available information on the prospective energy demand of the vessels and equipment used in the operation. In addition to the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, I also explored how these could be regulated on an international level. In this regard, I developed a criteria-based approach, to evaluate the suitability of various international environmental treaties and organizations to take on this task. Lastly, I also analyzed if and how deep-sea mining can potentially contribute to sustainable development, taking into particular consideration the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are at the heart of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The complete dissertation is available here.

While working on my Ph.D., I also complete a research project focusing on a comparative assessment of the material and energy flows associated with the metallurgical processing of terrestrial nickel laterite ores and deep-sea mainganese nodules commissioned by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Resources (BGR).

Throught my studies, I have participated in several conferences and workshops on deep-sea mining and the broader topic of ocean governance. Some of the events I attended include the 46th Underwater Mining Conference in Berlin (http://www.underwatermining.org), an EU COST Action on Ocean Governance (https://www.oceangov.eu), a policy workshop entitled „Deep-Sea Mining: What next for Science?“ held at the European Parliament in Brussels (http://www.searica.eu/en/events/conference/deep-sea-mining-what-next-for-science) and the recent final workshop of the EU’s „Blue Mining“ project (http://www.bluemining.eu/events/blue-mining-final-event-workshop/).

Besides working as a research associate at Jacobs University, I took over the  role of project coordinator/assistant  for the JPI-O “MiningImpact – Impacts and Risks of Deep-Sea Mining” project at GEOMAR Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in 2019. Before this, I have also completed several jobs for the German Marine Research Consortium (KDM). I am, moreover, a member of the KDM Strategy Group Marine Mineral Resources.


Heinrich, L. and Koschinsky, A. (2021): Deep-Sea Mining: Can It Contribute to Sustainable Development? in: Transitioning to Sustainable Life below Water (Anna-Katharina Hornidge and Werner Ekau (Eds.)) doi: 10.3390/books978-3-03897-877-0-3

Heinrich L., (2020): Tiefseebergbau: Ein Umweltproblem? Hydrographische Nachrichten 117:56-63. Link.

Heinrich L., Koschinsky A., Markus T., Singh P. (2020): Quantifying the fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution of a potential commercial manganese nodule mining operation. Marine Policy 114, 103678. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103678

Koschinsky, A., Heinrich, L., Boehnke, K., Cohrs, J.C., Markus, T., Shani, M., Singh, P., Smith Stegen, K. and Werner, W. (2018): Deep‐sea mining: Interdisciplinary research on potential environmental, legal, economic, and societal implications. Integrated Environmental Assessessment and Management 14:672–691, doi: 10.1002/ieam.4071

Heinrich, L., and Krause, T. (2016): Fishing in acid waters: A vunerability assessment of the Norwegian fishing industry in the face of increasing ocean acidification. Integrated Environemntal Assessment and Management 13(4): 778-789, doi: doi.org/10.1002/ieam.1843

Conference presentations:

Heinrich, L. and Koschinsky, A. (2018): “Deep-Sea Mining Impacts above the Surface – Quantifying the Fuel Consumption and Associated Air Pollution of a Commercial Mn Nodule Mining Operation in the CCZ.” In 48th Underwater Mining Conference, Bergen, Norway (Talk)

Heinrich, L. and Koschinsky, A. (2017): Assessing the sustainability of manganese nodule mining: a life-cycle based comparison of commercial mining scenarios in the German license areas in the CCZ. 46th Underwater Mining Conference (UMC), Berlin, Germany (Talk)

Workshop Proceedings:

Heinrich, L., Lehnen, F. Petersen, S. (2018): Final Workshop Blue Mining: Breakthrough Solutions for Sustainable Deep-Sea Mining (2017), Aachen, October 2017

Briefing report:

Heinrich, L. (2016). Deep Sea Mining – What next for Science? Briefing Report. Brussels (BE).