International Seabed Authority

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

1 Jun 2022

News

Source: Mining Watch Canada, Civil Society Forum Tonga and Deep Sea Mining Campaign

Civil society organisations denounce the lack of accountability and transparency at the first Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The Metals Company (TMC), which took place yesterday 31st May as a virtual meeting.

TMC boasted that the virtual format, allegedly chosen because of COVID19 concerns, would “enhance, rather than constrain, shareholder access, participation, and communication.” In reality, the company rattled through a truncated agenda without a single outside intervention. The whole meeting was over in less than 15 minutes.

Andy Whitmore, Deep Sea Mining Campaign (DSMC) Finance Advocacy Officer comments, “You would not know that this is a highly controversial company working in a controversial industry, not least one that is subject to questions over whether it has the cash to survive. The only voices heard were the key officers of the company, and – even though we could see no video – the meeting was closed soon after it started by a ‘show of hands’.”

The format allegedly encouraged questions, which would only have been answered after any voting took place. Company shareholders who were retail investors could not ask questions in advance, but there were attempts to use a chat function to raise two major questions:  

  • on behalf of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, stressing concerns that the recent Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed deep sea mining test by TMC’s Nauruan subsidiary lacked meaningful participation and transparency, and;
  • how TMC will deal with the substantial risks, laid out in the annual report*, including that their final plan of work may not be approved by the International Seabed Authority.

The questions were acknowledged, but were not answered. People were encouraged to email the company for a response. This, despite the fact that there were only these two questions to deal with.

Pelenatita Kara, Deep Sea Mining National Campaign Manager, Civil Society Forum of Tonga, said, “We want to know what guarantees there will be that we can have a meaningful voice in any similar exercises affecting us; particularly that we will have enough time and if necessary outside expertise to allow us, as key stakeholders, to evaluate the information submitted.” 

Dr. Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada added, “TMC’s first Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a test run of its deep sea mining system has been deemed not fit-for-purpose by a wide range of stakeholders, including DSMCMiningWatch Canada and the UK Government. Its revised version was provided to stakeholders just one day before the second and final public event on the EIS.”

“This fundamental lack of interest in the views of committed rights and stakeholders who demand the highest level of transparency and protection for the common heritage of humankind is telling of the kind of company TMC is, and deeply concerning given the long-lasting harm this company is set to cause to the seabed foundation of life in the ocean.”

Two other issues which weren’t raised because of the truncated meeting, but need answering are:

The AGM coincided with the launch of a critical counter-website that exposes TMC’s claims of being custodians of a metals commons, as opposed to simply another profit-seeking extractive industry company. The financial section of the site stresses the speculative nature of TMC’s business plan.  

Mr. Whitmore concluded, “The meeting was a travesty. It was reminiscent of the (non)meeting for the merger that created TMC last September. At that meeting – which was also over in less than 15 minutes – shareholders could ask questions in the chatbox, but would not receive a reply until long after any voting took place. Where is the transparency?”

“TMC does its best to hide from legitimate scrutiny, and yet public accounting rules mean they still have to publish the significant list of risks involved with their venture in the annual report. Those risks should be enough to discourage any sensible investor for the sake of their wallet, but – more importantly – for the sake of the oceans.”

Contacts:

  • Tonga: Pelenatita Kara, Civil Society Forum of Tonga, karatita1870[at]gmail.com, +676 840 0444
  • United Kingdom: Andy Whitmore, Deep Sea Mining Campaign, andy[at]dsm-campaign.org, +44 775 439 5597
  • Canada: Dr. Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, catherine[at]miningwatch.ca, +1 613 256 8331

The Metals Company Annual Report, 2021, p.37-38 – full quote on p.38 “There can be no assurance that the ISA will put in place Final Regulations in a timely manner or at all. Such regulations may also impose burdensome obligations or restrictions on us, and/or may contain terms that do not enable us to develop our projects.” 

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

31 Mar 2022

We’ve reached the penultimate day of International Seabed Authority (ISA) negotiations, as the Authority seeks to rush through discussions on how to regulate a looming extractive industry threatening the farthest reaches of our ocean: deep-sea mining. As this session nears its end, the DSCC and other NGOs continue to call for a moratorium on this destructive practice that would leave permanent scars on the seabed and cause wide scale damage in areas far beyond the areas directly mined.

Continue reading The gloves come off – 31/3/22

30 Mar 2022

Negotiations of draft rules and regulations, that could regulate the looming deep-sea mining industry were it to go ahead, entered their 8th day today in Kingston Jamaica.

Today’s session opened with an address from the International Seabed Authority (ISA’s) Secretary General, followed by the Chair of the Authority’s Legal and Technical Commission (LTC), presenting a report which included the development of Regional Environmental Monitoring Plans (REMPs), contract extensions, applications for new exploratory licences and an update on would be miners’ Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Continue reading On a sticky wicket: Delegates continue to be stumped by inadequate draft deep-sea mining regulations – 30/3/22 

29 Mar 2022

On the 7th day of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) meeting to rush through regulations that would allow the commercial exploitation of the deep sea to begin, negotiations continued. The morning session focused on compliance and enforcement regulations, moving to institutional matters in the afternoon.

The DSCC continued to highlight that the ISA is not fit for purpose and therefore cannot regulate any proposed mining operations in the deep ocean, which would dwarf anything humanity has seen before if it were permitted to go ahead.

Continue reading Keeping the lid on Pandora’s box – 29/3/22