Thursday 14 August 2014

NGOs from Australia, Canada and India call for an international moratorium on deep seabed mining in light of the International Seabed Authority’s (ISA) issuing of 7 exploration licences for deep seabed mining in international waters.

Natalie Lowrey, spokesperson, Deep Sea Mining campaign, “The granting of these licences flies in the face of the precautionary principle. There is insufficient scientific data to understand the impacts of deep sea mining, there are no regulatory frameworks in place to govern mining operations and the capacity to enforce such frameworks does not yet exist. The issuing of exploration licenses must cease until these issues are addressed.”

The 7 new exploration licenses have been granted to: UK Seabed Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin the world’s biggest defense company; the Government of India; Russian Ministry of Natural Resources; Brazil’s Companhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Minerias; Ocean Mineral Singapore; Germany Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources; and Cook Islands Investment Corporation.[1]

Sreedhar Ramamurthi, Chairperson, mines minerals & PEOPLE, India said, “The issue of deep sea mining is not just for scientists and mining companies, the debate has to be much bigger. Is it morally viable? Is it environmentally sustainable? What is going to happen to the waste? What are the economic, social and cultural impacts on local populations in the areas they want to mine? They are the same questions whether you are mining in the deep sea or on land.”

“Currently the exploitation of resources, including the proposed exploitation of our deep seas, is dominated by politics and economics over environmental and social issues.”

Charles Roche, Executive Director, Mineral Policy Institute in Australia said, “Deep sea mining remains a highly speculative venture, undermined by a lack of understanding about both the questionable need for additional sources of metals and minerals as well as the potential impacts of underwater mining.”

“Nation-states who have a strong involvement in the exploration and potential exploitation of our seabeds should also play a strong role in the development of greater marine protection.”

Catherine Coumans, Research coordinator, Mining Watch Canada said, “Organisations are also calling for a move to a circular economy[2] where the emphasis is on resource efficiency, urban mining, long term product lives and strong repair, reuse and recycling policies.

“It is imperative that we have an understanding about impacts before exploration or exploitation of deep sea mineral resources is permitted. That is why we are calling for an international moratorium on all deep seabed mining until marine park areas are established to protect deep sea ecosystems and risks are assessed and analysed.”


For more information
Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining campaign (Australia), natalie.lowrey[at]gmail.com +61421226200

Charles Roche, Mineral Policy Institute (Australia), charles.roche[at]mpi.org.au, +61450901714

Sreedhar Ramamurthi, mines, minerals & PEOPLE (India), environics[at]gmail.com, +91-9810706244



[1]This brings the total of deep seabed mining exploration licenses granted by the ISA to 17. Twelve of these contracts are for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone (Pacific Ocean) and Central Indian Ocean Basin. Three are for exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the South West Indian Ridge, Central Indian Ridge and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Tow contracts for exploration-rich crusts in the Western Pacific Ocean