The Metals Company seeking to clean up on deep sea mining


March 2023  |  The Metals Company (TMC)’s recent announcement of a new strategic partnership throws a light on a web of insiders and nepotism within the world of the company.

TMC’s latest deal is with Low Carbon Royalties, which is led by Brian Paes-Braga, Managing Partner of SAF Growth the equity investment arm of SAF Group. 

For those with short memories, it is worth noting that Brian Paes-Braga was a director of DeepGreen, the company that morphed into TMC after a September 2022 company merger. Because of his role as a director payments are listed for him in the 2021 TMC accounts.[2]

And so, it continues; it seems that the main deals TMC and its CEO Gerard Barron make to stave off bankruptcy is with insiders. This paints a picture of the difficulties they have in persuading anyone outside those interested parties that deep sea mining has any merit. It also speaks to nepotistic ties.

In order to illustrate these connections, the Deep Sea Mining Campaign has produced an infographic to lay bare the web of connections tying Gerard Barron, his family, and his friends – particularly the father-son duo Robert and David Heydon.

Many of these associations were forged in the days of the bankrupt Nautilus Minerals. They continue today with the entity Deep Sea Mining Finance (DSMF) which now controls Nautilus’ assets as well as those involved in TMC. The return of Mr. Paes-Braga to the fold adds another thread to this incestuous web.

As a recent story in Wired reminds us, TMC “has burned through $300 million. A substantial chunk of that cash wound up in Barron’s pocket. He and his partner, Erika Ilves, a former executive at a company aiming to mine water on the moon whom Barron brought on as chief strategy officer, were together paid more than $20 million in salary and stock options in 2021.”

The seabed in international waters is the ‘common heritage of (hu)mankind’ as stated by the UN Convention that governs it. However, only a self-selected few will truly profit from mining it.