Will metals from the seabed be allowed to be mined in 2023?

Date: May 22, 2022

Source: El País

Author: Celia Fernandez

The controversy is growing: proponents of deep-sea mining use the ecological transition argument, but environmental organizations state it is a false climate solution.

A petition against deep-sea mining, signed by 622 experts, warns of “irreversible” damage to biodiversity and marine ecosystems. Other research indicates that knowledge about the seabed is too limited to allow would-be miners to move to the exploitation phase. Louisa Casson, head of the Ocean Protection campaign at Greenpeace, argues that “learning from the example of Antarctica, the time has come to establish a moratorium on deep-sea mining.”

Mining companies might try to define themselves as key in the transition to a sustainable economy powered by electric batteries, but multinationals such as Tesla are replacing nickel and cobalt batteries with others made with lithium iron phosphate. BMW, Google, Samsung and Volvo have pledged not to use minerals collected in the seabed. Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, stresses the irony: as high prices for nickel and cobalt catalyze the search for alternatives, “at the same time this makes mining even more attractive to some companies and countries.” In Spain, the Canary Islands have pressured the government to support the moratorium on deep-sea mining. Activists like Casson ask: “How can governments give the green light to an industry that scientists already warn can cause so much damage?”

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