Mining on the sea floor should not begin before a full assessment of likely environmental impacts can be made, a report commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) said on Wednesday.
Source: Geographical Author: Sabine Christiansen and Sebastian Unger
You may have heard about minerals on the bottom of the ocean. The UK Government sponsors several exploration contracts for UK Seabed Resources (a subsidiary of the American aerospace and security company Lockheed-Martin) in the Pacific Ocean to look for them. These minerals come from the so-called ‘Area’, the deep seafloor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction and far out in the global ocean.
This session was hosted as part of the 2020 Virtual Ocean Dialogues by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Pacific Network on Globalisation.
The ocean is a constant for people of the Pacific, with cultures centred around long-held relationships that remain embedded in everyday life. Knowledge, guardianship and traditional resource management systems enable the bounty of a healthy ocean to perpetually sustain physical, economic and spiritual well-being.
The impending industry of deep seabed mining has focused its attention on the Pacific region both on the high seas through the International Seabed Authority and within national jurisdictions, where proposals to date have been shown to be at odds not only with cultural beliefs and practices of Pacific societies, but also with contemporary marine legislation, economic and cultural activities such as fisheries and tourism, and the commitments of all countries to reverse the decline in biodiversity. The outcomes and stories of civil society engagement with prolonged seabed mining licensing processes lay bare the question of appropriateness of the activity in the 21st century.
In this Virtual Ocean Dialogue session, stories from frontline indigenous leaders offered a Pacific people’s perspective on the “sustainable relationship” with the life-giving entity, Moana nui. Experts also explored the interconnectedness of deep-sea environments and the rights of both human societies and nature in the context of exploiting the global commons.
Scientists are urging a temporary halt to deep-sea metal mining. They warn in a report that it could cause severe, damaging effects on Pacific Ocean areas.
The recently-released report examined more than 250 published studies on deep-sea mining. The research was examined by the Deep Sea Mining Campaign – a collection of not-for-profit organizations. Environmental group MiningWatch Canada also cooperated on the study.
The essential roles microbes play in deep-sea ecosystems are at risk from the potential environmental impacts of mining, a new paper in Limnology and Oceanography reports. The NSF-funded study reviews what is known about microbes in these environments and assesses how mining could impact their important roles.
o mine the seabed under international waters, companies like DeepGreen need a licence from the UN’s International Seabed Authority (ISA). So far, only exploration licences have been granted. The ISA has put a hold on the actual extraction of minerals until they’ve completed their Mining Code: an unprecedented set of regulations to control what happens on the international seabed in an effort to ensure mining benefits everyone. This code has been in the works for nearly two decades. But with time now running out on its exploration licences, the ISA is facing increasing pressure to push the code through and let mining begin. Is the world ready for this? And, given the powerful influence of mining interests and the inability of civil society to oversee what’s happening at the ISA, is this UN body really up to the task of protecting our ocean floors?
Since the influential book Mineral Resources of the Sea by J. L. Mero was published a half-century ago, governments and mining companies have dreamed of extracting untapped metal and mineral deposits from the sea floor.
On 21st November, Nautilus Mineral’s court-appointed monitors, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) confirmed that the relevant legal papers had been filed to assign Nautilus Minerals Inc. into bankruptcy.[i] Whilst this news was expected, there has been no news on their plans for the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in Papua New Guinea, leaving local communities and civil society who are opposed to the project with many questions.
Nautilus filed for protection from its debts in a Canadian Court in February 2019.[ii] The company tried to restructure but it failed to find any buyers for its assets. In August 2019, court approval was obtained for creditors to liquidate the company in order to get back a fraction of what they were owed.[iii]
The coastal waters of the United States cover an area dwarfing the nation itself. Yet more than half of that ocean floor is a blank—unmapped by all but low-resolution satellite imagery.
Now, the White House has announced a new push to examine these 11.6 million square kilometers of undersea territory. President Donald Trump this week signed a memorandum ordering federal officials to draft a new strategy that would accelerate federal efforts to map and explore these reaches.