Prospective deep-sea mining company admits significant financial, environmental, and social risks

Date: August 4, 2021

Media response

For immediate release 4.8.21

Following widespread criticism leveled at the deep-sea mining industry, would-be miners, DeepGreen, have admitted more ‘significant’ risks associated with the emerging industry than previously indicated.

The company spearheading efforts to open up a new frontier of destructive, industrial extraction in the deep ocean, has substantially revised its impact and feasibility statements in its latest submission to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), admitting the multiple financial, environmental, and social risks associated with deep-sea mining. This filing comes ahead of the company’s proposed merger with the Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp (SOAC) in their bid to become publicly listed as ‘The Metals Company’ (TMC).

The prospective deep-sea mining company acknowledges in its SEC filing that “potential future commercial-scale nodule collection operations in the CCZ [the area of the Pacific that DeepGreen seeks to mine] are certain to disturb wildlife in the operating area. The nature and severity of these impacts on CCZ wildlife are expected to vary by species and are currently subject to significant uncertainty” and that impacts on biodiversity “may never be, completely and definitively known.” 

The filing also discloses the irreversible nature of environmental impacts, stating that it is “… not definitively known how the risk of biodiversity loss in the CCZ could be eliminated or reduced through mitigation strategies or how long it will take for disturbed seabed areas to recover naturally.”

This news comes as momentum continues to grow globally to halt the risky industry from a broad range of society. Recently more than 550 scientists and policy experts from over 40 countries have warned of the irreversible damage strip-mining the deep seabed would cause to life in the deep and the potential risks to services that make life on Earth possible, including the ocean’s ability to lock away carbon dioxide.

“The deep ocean stands between humanity and some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis, it is fundamental to the balance of our planet. To destroy it is the same pattern of behavior that got us into the current mess we are in. We need to learn from our past mistakes and safeguard the health of our ocean – our greatest ally in staving off the worst impacts of the climate crisis.”

Sian Owen, Director of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Proponents of deep-sea mining have argued its benefits over land-based mining – a comparison that experts have emphatically rejected in light of the many uncertainties surrounding the speculative new industry and its potential impacts on ocean and planetary health. The revised filing from DeepGreen joins this assessment, stressing that it is not possible to definitively say whether the impact of deep-sea mining on global biodiversity will be less significant than land-based mining for a similar amount of metal.

“These new admissions made in a formal Securities and Exchange Commission filing are very significant and cut to the heart of the risks posed by deep-sea mining.  Since the company acknowledges now that impacts can never be known, that wildlife is certain to be disturbed and significant uncertainties exist as to the nature and severity of impacts, there is no way that the deep-sea marine environment cannot be effectively protected, implementing the precautionary principle, which is a key requirement of international oceans law.”

Duncan Currie, International Lawyer

The financial risks associated with investing in the industry, which has garnered considerable negative press over the past couple of months, have also been highlighted in the company’s SEC submission, asserting that: “there can be no assurance that TMC’s financial condition following the Business Combination will be consistent with those set forth in such projections and forecasts, which could have an adverse impact on the market price of the TMC Common Shares or the financial position of TMC following the Business Combination.”

“DeepGreen has through these admissions conceded that they are not a sustainable and environmentally positive investment option. Regulatory pressure has forced them to admit to investors that it simply isn’t worth the risk.” 

Andy Whitmore, Finance Advocacy Officer at Deep Sea Mining Campaign


For more information, please contact:

Expert interviews are available with:

  • Andy Whitmore UK – Deep Sea Mining Campaign- finance expert, working on mining & affected communities – 
  • Duncan Currie – International Law of the Sea lawyer; has attended ISA meetings for 9 years – 
  • Sian Owen – DSCC – expertise in biodiversity conservation, including deep-sea mining, and circular economy approaches- 
  • Matthew Gianni – DSCC – expertise in international fisheries, marine conservation and deep-sea mining, and the International Seabed Authority – 
  • Farah Obaidullah – DSCC – ocean protection advocate and lobbyist, working on deep-sea mining – 
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