Press Release

5 Aug 2022

Media Release – For Immediate Release

Negotiations to open the ocean to the largest mining operation in human history come to a close as resistance from country delegations, scientists and NGOs escalates. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition have been present throughout negotiations and call for ISA member States to urgently turn words into action and call on the Authority for a stop to the destructive industry before it starts.

Over the past three weeks negotiations have taken place in a hotel in Kingston, Jamaica to agree a Mining Code which if adopted, would see the Earth’s largest remaining wilderness area opened to large-scale commercial deep-sea mining as soon as next July. Observers including NGOs and scientists have been relegated to a windowless basement room for the duration of the meetings.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) continued to push ahead with developing regulations for the nascent industry. At the same time, an increasing number of countries emphasised the obligation of the ISA under international law to ensure the effective protection of the international seabed (which accounts for around 50 per cent of the total area of the world’s ocean) from the harmful effects of deep-sea mining activities.

As country delegations took the floor, it became quickly apparent that the tide has begun to turn on the controversial industry in the face of growing awareness of the irreversible and large-scale damage deep-sea mining would have for people and planet, if authorised to go ahead. Numerous countries including Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Ecuador and Micronesia called for the ISA to hit the brakes on deep-sea mining, highlighting concerns that the world is not in a position to move forward with the emerging industry in the absence of the necessary independent scientific information.

Micronesia also raised the prospect of a moratorium on deep-sea mining for the first time during negotiations, stating that they had joined the Alliance of Countries Calling for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium launched by Palau at the UN Ocean Conference. Delegations including New Zealand, Brazil, Singapore and Italy also stated that environmental protection must be guaranteed before deep-sea mining could move forward and numerous States and observers clearly indicated that many of the issues under negotiation at the ISA are far from being resolved. Indeed, Tonga, a sponsoring state of would-be miners, Tonga Offshore Mining Limited owned by The Metals Company, commented that they were concerned by the apparent lack of progress to develop regulations.

Credit: NOAA

Australia, the UK and Nauru, the latter two countries also sponsoring states, reiterated their call to progressing regulations and France stated their determination to adopt “a legal framework with rigorous environmental protections to ensure that harm to ecosystems in the marine environment is minimised.” Conversely, during the UN Oceans Conference at the end of June, President Emmanuel Macron called for a legal framework to stop mining on the high seas.

The clock is ticking on deep-sea mining, due to the triggering of an obscure legal provision known as the 2 year rule by Nauru on behalf of the mining company it sponsors, NORI, also owned by The Metals Company. However, calls grew from observers and numerous States that this timeline may not necessarily lead to mining. Costa Rica consistently highlighted that the rule was triggered during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and Chile called for a full discussion on whether the 2-year timeline was indeed meaningful. The debate however was postponed by the President of the ISA Assembly, squeezing it under what was essentially ‘AOB’. 

Concerns mounted throughout the meetings that the ISA is not transparent, fit for purpose, nor acting on behalf of humankind. Tight restrictions on access were imposed on scientists, NGOs, country delegations and media by the ISA secretariat and some journalists were denied access entirely. On the first day of the meeting, the Secretariat turned off the live web stream, cutting off access to the negotiations to stakeholders including state delegations, many observers and media alike that were unable to attend the meeting. The move prompted significant backlash and eventually led to the live broadcast being switched back on. The Authority’s Secretary General, Michael Lodge also faced demands from Chile for United Nations level independent financial audits and complaints from Costa Rica of failing to show necessary impartiality.  

During the ISA’s Assembly crucial debate on the 2 year rule,  NGOs and scientists were cut off after 3 minutes, with no prior warning. Far from having time limitations, the meeting finished a day and a half early.

“Rather than acting on behalf of all of humankind, the ISA continues to demonstrate a deep-rooted industry driven agenda. Silencing voices that question the path to extraction, including NGOs and scientists, during negotiations illustrates the Authority’s clear and inherent conflict of interest.”

Emma Wilson, representing OceanCare throughout negotiations

In recent months, deep-sea mining has become a flagship issue for ocean health with  governments, Parliamentarians, scientists, civil society, companies, fisheries associations and huge swathes of the public all calling for an urgent stop to the destructive industry. The DSCC continues to urge ISA member States to call on the Authority for a stop to the destructive industry and to prioritise planetary health for present and future generations. 

“A growing number of countries are beginning to challenge the arcane rules under which the ISA operates, and reject assertions that the world needs to mine the deep-sea to build batteries for electric vehicles. What is needed is more responsible land-based mining practices, investment in circular economy initiatives, and to make much better use of the metals and materials we already have in circulation rather than opening a whole new frontier of the planet to destructive industrial resource extraction”.   

Matthew Gianni, representing Earthworks at negotiations

“ISA member States are waking up to the critical need to defend the deep in the face of what would be an environmental catastrophe, the likes of which we have never seen. It’s time for States to go further and join the alliance of countries calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, launched by Palau.” 

Duncan Currie, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition 
1 Aug 2022

DSCC Media Advisory

For release 1/8/22

This week, deep-sea mining negotiations in Jamaica enter their third week as backlash surrounding the nascent industry grows. Concerns surrounding transparency and the environmental impacts of the industry remained firmly at the top of the agenda for observers and many States present at International Seabed Authority (ISA) meetings last week. Meanwhile, global support for a halt skyrocketed as a new letter calling for a moratorium was launched, with more than 68,000 people calling on leaders to stop the industry before it begins. 

The ISA’s 168-member Assembly begins a week-long meeting today. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition has been present throughout deep-sea mining negotiations in Kingston and continues to advocate for a moratorium on the risky industry.

Continue reading Deep-sea mining negotiations demonstrate that the destructive industry cannot go ahead

18 Jul 2022

Press Release

Source: Greenpeace

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is fast-tracking regulations that could allow the deep sea mining industry to begin operations as early as July 2023. The regulations are being discussed at a meeting starting today in Kingston, Jamaica. An alliance of Pacific nations, along with scientists, youth groups, and civil society organizations, are calling for a moratorium on the industry, which could wreak havoc on one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and exacerbate climate change.

18 Jul 2022

Press Release

Source: Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition calls on member States of the International Seabed Authority to agree on a moratorium on the emerging destructive deep-sea mining industry as negotiations begin this week in Kingston, Jamaica.

Momentum for a moratorium on deep-sea mining continues to skyrocket globally as the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the body charged with regulating the nascent industry, continues the rush to mine the deep. The Authority’s Council and Assembly will meet from 18th July – 5th August. Central to their agenda is advancing a set of regulations that, if adopted, could see commercial deep-sea mining begin in as little as a year’s time.

The speculative industry received significant backlash at the recent UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, where governments, parliamentarians, youth groups and scientists all called for a halt to the industry. During the Conference, Palau launched an Alliance of Countries Calling for a Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium, with Fiji and Samoa joining;  Parliamentarians for Global Action launched a Global Parliamentary Declaration Calling for a Moratorium on Deep Seabed Mining and French president Emmanual Macron called for a stop to mining in the high seas.

Scientists continue to warn that if mining in the fragile deep were to go ahead, it would result in species extinctions and the irreversible destruction of habitats, not to mention as yet unquantified impacts on fisheries and the deep ocean’s capacity to sequester carbon. 

“The ISA’s mandate is clear. Under international law, the Authority must ensure the protection of the marine environment. The ISA cannot ignore the overwhelming body of scientific evidence that emphasizes the irreversible impacts the industry would have. If the protection of the marine environment cannot be ensured, then deep-sea mining cannot go ahead.”

Duncan Currie, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition legal advisor.

Would-be miners, The Metals Company, recently admitted the certainty of the net impacts the industry would have on the environment in their latest US Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The company stated that “Operations in the CCZ [the area of the Pacific Ocean earmarked for the first wave of commercial strip-mining] are certain to disturb wildlife and may impact ecosystem functioning.” Share prices of the prospective mining company have spiraled downward since their September 2021 merger, and continue to plummet as resistance gains traction. 

If deep-sea mining were to proceed, it could result in a loss of critical ecosystem functioning including critical carbon sequestration. The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report published in February this year warned of deep-sea mining as a potential future source of impacts on carbon sequestration in the deep.

“As the world faces up to the realities of the climate crisis and the urgent action needed to mitigate the worst impacts, pushing ahead with commercial resource extraction that would risk disturbing the planet’s largest carbon sinks is the height of irresponsibility”

Sian Owen Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Director.

Industry proponents claim that minerals strip-mined (or as they like to put it, “harvested”) from the deep are needed for batteries for smart technology. But the battery sector is rapidly moving in a different direction in the face of the environmental and social impacts of continued resource extraction. 

“If deep-sea mining were to begin, there would be no going back. Given the significant risks it poses to the marine environment, livelihoods, culture, the ecosystem functions that sustain us, and a complete absence of social license, the only justifiable way forward is a moratorium.”

Matthew Gianni, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Co-Founder and Policy Advisor

4 Apr 2022

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release 4th April 2022

Negotiations to develop the rules and regulations that would govern the destructive deep-sea mining industry have ended in Kingston, Jamaica. If approved and adopted, the regulations proposed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) would give the green light to risky deep-sea mining as soon as July 2023, which would undermine the health of our ocean at a time when we rely on it most.

Continue reading The threat of deep-sea mining continues to hang over the ocean as negotiations come to a close

28 Mar 2022

MEDIA UPDATE

For release 28.3.22 – Kingston Jamaica

Negotiations will continue this week which could open the deep sea to a new frontier of destructive industrial extraction.

The meeting of the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Kingston will continue its rush to mine the deep, negotiating new regulations which, if approved and adopted, could give the green light to deep-sea mining as soon as 2023.

Continue reading THE RUSH TO STRIP MINE THE DEEP OCEAN CONTINUES – WEEK TWO AT UN MINING MEETING

17 Mar 2022

PRESS RELEASE

States attending the 27th meeting of the  International Seabed Authority (ISA)  should call for  a moratorium on deep-sea mining and hit the brakes on the rush to adopt mining regulations.

The special meeting, held in Kingston, Jamaica, will run from Monday 21st March to April 1st and will see the ISA pushing for regulations that would enable the imminent start of exploitation in the deep ocean.

Continue reading Civil society strongly oppose the rush to mine the deep and call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining

9 Mar 2022

PRESS RELEASE

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for The Metals Company (TMC’s) deep-sea mining test by its Nauruan subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), received over 600  comments across a range of critical issues. Government and non-government organisations  declared it sub-standard and not fit for purpose as a risk management tool. 

Continue reading The Metals Company and the International Seabed Authority Slammed Over Environmental Impact Statement