‚We are not ready ‘: Divisions deepen over rush to finalise deep sea mining rules

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Seabed mining

The ‚energy transition ‘is supposed to replace thousands of coal-fired power stations and over a hundred million barrels of oil per year, amongst other fuels like gas and wood, in the name of an invented ‚climate crisis ‘. Not going to happen on the scale required, even if this new supply of minerals were to become available – with the aid of fossil fuel powered machinery. All that mining will, or would be, waste product one day.
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A growing number of countries are demanding more time to decide on rules that would allow companies to mine the deep seabed for minerals needed to manufacture batteries for the energy transition, says Climate Change News.

Last year, the small island state of Nauru, triggered a never-before-used procedure giving the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the UN body which regulates mining activities in international waters, until July 2023 to fast-track deep sea mining exploitation rules.

Countries have discussed mining the bottom of the oceans for years but no commercial extraction has started in international waters. The ultimatum would allow the nascent industry to apply for mining permits as soon as next year.

The move has led to growing calls from nations, scientists and campaigners not to rush the approval of a mining code that risks negatively impacting the deep marine environment, of which still little is known.

During three weeks of meetings at the ISA’s headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, which ended last week, some member states issued multiple calls for a discussion on the implication of the two-year ultimatum to be added to the agenda.

Chile, Costa Rica, South Africa, Ecuador, Trinidad and Tobago, Italy and Spain were among countries voicing frustration at being forced to negotiate such a complex piece of international law under an artificial timeline.

But the ISA secretary and officials refused to add the issue to the official agenda, stripping the body’s 167 member states of the ability to meet and express their views before the deadline next year.

Deep sea mining companies have been carrying out exploration of an area of the Pacific Ocean floor, known as the Clarion Clipperton Zone.

There lies a concentration of black mineral concretion, known as polymetallic nodules, which are rich in nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese: minerals critical for manufacturing electric vehicles.

Following the triggering of the two-year-rule, the ISA secretary has rushed to design a roadmap that could allow the nascent deep sea mining industry to begin commercial operations as soon as next year.

Under procedural rules, the ISA will have to “consider and provisionally approve” requests for exploitation licences regardless of whether the mining code is finalised.

Since then, calls for banning the practice have grown. Scientists have warned that far too little is known about the deep ocean, its biodiversity and the role it plays in storing carbon to allow companies to mine the seabed.

Mining would result in biodiversity loss “that would be irreversible on multi-generational timescales,” they say.
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Diva Amon, a deep-sea biologist representing the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, an observer at the talks, said: “Pushing through regulations without allowing ISA member states and observer organisations to properly debate the mining regulations and the consequences of proceeding without a robust understanding of important but vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems will not be to the benefit of humankind.”

Full article here.

A yellow glass sponge observed at a depth of 2.5km in the Sibelius Seamount in the Pacific (Photo: NOAA Ocean Exploration/Flickr)

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

August 12, 2022, by oldbrew