Country Positions

11 Nov 2022

Chile

  • Highlighted highlighted that in the case of damage to the environment, contractor’s should not have their contract renewed and shouldn’t have the opportunity to find sponsorship with another country “because we already know that this is a contractor who does not abide by the contract and who puts the environment at risk.”
  • Chile expressed concern that on transfer of rights and obligations UNCLOS does not discuss the ability to transfer partial rights.
  • Stated that an Environmental Performance Guarantee should be presented before activities in marine environment commence

Costa Rica

  • The delegation warned that if Sponsoring states are not notified of environmental damage by contractors, they could be responsible for damage.
  • Shared concerns around effective control
  • Stated that for certain regulations, the more they are read, the less sense they make.
  • Reiterated the mandate of the Authority “to protect the common heritage of humankind”
  • On the ISA’s updated roadmap – the delegation expressed that they were happy to see adoption of regulations on the ISA’s previous roadmap in July 2023 changed in line with Brazil’s proposal to ‘reviewed’ in July 2023, stating that this doesn’t represent a commitment and that we don’t have a sword of Damocles as Chile put it.
  • The delegation stated that not making enough progress is a likely possibility.
  • Costa Rica also requested more time for the roadmap in the next meeting and not the last day, to discuss issues once again.
  • Costa Rica
  • Costa Rica stated that the area contains the common heritage of mankind not only mineral minerals, it’s also a very useful reserve of biodiversity of and a source of unknown genetic resources and a strength for the cycles of the planet and offers a lot of ecosystem services.

UK

  • The UK stated that it is beyond the mandate of the ISA to ensure that it doesn’t monopolise the production of any single mineral and metal produced

Mexico

  • Stated that the decision to modify plans of work should be responsibility of technical rather than administrative entity of the ISA.

South Africa

  • The delegation agreed with Costa Rica on changes to the ISA’s roadmap

Australia

  • Called for more time to be allocated to LTC meeting next year.

Brazil

  • Stated that it is not realistic that regulations will be agreed by July 2023.
  • Commented that naming and shaming contractors that are repeatedly violating obligations could be counterproductive in reaching the opposite of the desirable effect, which is full compliance with the contract and with the authorities regulation

India

  • India called for next year’s meetings to be in hybrid mode.

China

  • China stated that the contractors will be the direct provider of environmental baseline information and contractors participation is is a must

Belgium

  • Proposed to establsih an informal inter-sessional dialogue to facilitate further discussions on the possible scenarios and other pertinent legal considerations with a view to explore commonalities on possible approaches and legal interpretations of the 2 year rule

10 Nov 2022

FRANCE

  • France reiterated President Macron’s call at COP27 for a ban on deep-sea mining. Read the full statement here.

COSTA RICA 

  • Congratulated and applauded France for their action. 
  • Oceans are already facing many challenges. We should not put additional pressures on this ecosystem, such as seabed mining, without respecting the effective protection of the marine environment. 
  • Effective protection is a precondition for mining and Costa Rica therefore suggested that the Authority lead an ambitious and strategic scientific programme to ensure there is enough information to assess applications and protection of the environment can be ensured. 
  • Regarding the approval of the NORI Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Costa Rica raised concerns about the contents of the EIS, the submission and publication process, and the inclusion of stakeholder consultation. 
  • The Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) should make public the final EIA, including the way in which comments were taken into account and the detailed process followed for the decision to approve it without rationale. 
  • There need to be consequences for non-compliance and Costa Rica supports the intervention by The Netherlands for the names of the contractors that did not fulfill their contractual obligations to be shared. 
  • Costa Rica also called for the LTC to not use the silence procedure for future substantive issues

CHILE 

  • Congratulated France and do not believe deep-sea mining should happen until there is sufficient science and regulations to guide operations.
  • Regarding the the approval of the NORI EIS, which was approved online through the silence procedure by a small group within the LTC, Chile highlighted that this was a process which generated various reactions including in the international press, questioning procedures not only of the LTC but of the Authority itself.  
  • Chile questioned the use of silence procedure in important decision making – such as the approval of the NORI EIS. This procedure was used during the exceptional circumstances stemming from the COVID pandemic and Chile questioned whether the LTC or the Secretariat ensured that all members of the LTC had read the message on time to obtain consensus on the NORI EIS. 
  • Supports the request made by the Netherlands that the names of the contractors that did not fulfill their contractual obligations to be shared. 

NORWAY 

  • A prohibition against deep-sea mining seems an unfortunate departure from our collective endeavours to complete the mining code and thus achieve our legal obligations under UNCLOS. 
  • Norway shares many of the concerns raised and believes in the objective that mining should not occur without the complete regulations in place. In our view, the best way to achieve this is to continue and to redouble our efforts to finish these regulations. 

GERMANY

  • Welcome the growing momentum towards precaution amongst members of the Authority. It is our responsibility to determine the conditions under which seabed mining could occur.
  • On the NORI EIS – proper public consultation should be mandatory even and especially after an EIS has been substantially revised by a contractor. While NORI’s initial EIS was subject to stakeholder consultation, significant revisions were made to the second and third versions of the EIS without further consultation.
  • Requested that a discussion be held regarding whether it is advisable to use the silence procedure in decision making of such important matters. 
  • Assume that NORI will provide the Authority with all environmental information collected during the mining tests after a reasonable period of time to evaluate the data and this information be made publicly available. 
  • Reiterated call from The Netherlands for the LTC to report back and explicitly mention the names of the contractors that have repeatedly ignored the call from both the Council as well as the LTC to abide by their contractual obligations. 

SINGAPORE

  • Cannot support such a proposal for a complete ban on deep-sea mining.  
  • Each of us should make every effort to develop the best possible exploitation regulations taking into account environmental protection and benefit sharing in the basis of our cooperation and mutual trust. 

PANAMA 

  • Panama reaffirmed their position that they will not support mining without sufficient scientific information. 
  • Support Costa Rica and the need for an independent scientific research programme. 

POLAND

  • Do not understand a complete ban in the Area. 

NEW ZEALAND

  • New Zealand reiterated their call for a conditional moratorium in areas beyond national jurisdiction until regulations can be agreed that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment. 
  • On the NORI EIS, New Zealand raised concerns about the stakeholder consultation process and encouraged Council members and the LTC to review stakeholder requirements. 
  • Raised that it is essential to have transparency on matters of great public interest and the issue of Council members being made aware of a situation through press releases of a contractor rather than the ISA. 

COOK ISLANDS

  • Disappointed by France’s position on a complete ban on deep-sea mining and questioned France’s continued role in the ISA as a council member and their expression contracts. 
  • The Cook Islands remains committed to working collectively and constructively on finalizing the draft expiration regulations with robust environmental standards in line with a firm and responsible precautionary approach. 

BRAZIL 

  • No exploitation should begin before the elaboration and adoption of robust, science-based mining code. 

NAURU 

  • Nauru recognises the need for a robust regulatory framework for the responsible exploitation of seafloor minerals to ensure deep-sea ecosystems are adequately protected. 
  • Remain committed to the conversation on solutions to the global climate crisis, including the sourcing of minerals critical to a low carbon future of which nodule collection, Nauru considers to form an integral part of. 
  • Echoed questions raised by the Cook Islands, including those concerning France’s two exploration contacts.  
  • Supports The Netherlands’ proposal for contractors that have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

SPAIN

  • We cannot begin exploitation until there are adequate regulations that guarantees the protection of the marine environment in accordance with the precautionary principle. 

RUSSIA 

  • Do not believe we can move into exploitation without robust regulations. 
  • Emphasized that the exploitation of mineral resources should be done in the interests of all countries, including developing countries. 

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA 

  • Micronesia welcomed points raised about the urgency to protect the ocean & by extension all of humankind and noted that the biodiversity and climate change crises were not in mind when UNCLOS was agreed.
  • Deep-sea mining cannot happen without sufficient scientific information. 

INDIA 

  • Mining should only occur under robust regulations and can only proceed when these regulations are in place. 

ARGENTINA 

  • Wish to continue negotiations to develop a robust framework for the exploitation of the mineral resources in the Area, respecting the protection of the marine environment and the common heritage of mankind. 
  • Echoed concerns by other delegations relating to the use of the silence procedure in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and linked to the decision-making process of the LTC. 

THE NETHERLANDS

  • Drew attention to the LTC annual report which noted that contractors are not complying with standard clauses of their contract. 
  • It is crucial that contractors during the exploration phase abide by their contractual obligations.  
  • Propose that the Council actually name those contractors that have repeatedly ignored the calls from the Council and the LTC to comply with their contractual obligations. 

REPUBLIC OF KOREA 

  • Frustrated to hear of repeated violationd of obligations by contractors. 
  • Want those contractors who have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

BELGIUM 

  • Regarding the NORI EIS, Belgium questioned whether information was missing from the approved EIS and Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP), and raised questions regarding the approval process by the Legal and Technical Commission. 
  • Belgium called for greater transparency and more open information sharing with the Council and the wider public. 
  • Supports The Netherlands’ proposal for contractors that have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

ITALY 

  • Supported The Netherlands’ proposal for the names of the contractors that did not fulfill their contractual obligations to be shared as a necessary step towards greater transparency. 
  • Italy believes the revised NORI EIS and EMMP should have been released publicly and see merit in releasing the revised EIS for full stakeholder consultation. 
  • Italy requested additional information on the Secretariat’s inspection of NORI’s exploration test, as well as the inspection process.  

PORTUGAL 

  • Stressed the need to ensure transparency in the processes related to the environmental management of the common heritage of humankind. 
  • Called for the NORI EMMP to be disclosed to all stakeholders as soon as possible. 
  • Fully supported The Netherlands’ proposal for contractors that have ignored calls by the Council to be named. 

CANADA

  • Called for a more in-depth discussion on effective control.

10 Nov 2022

On 7 November 2022, at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, the President of the French Republic declared that France supports the banning of any deep seabed mining and that it would defend this position in the international forums. This strong and overt position has raised a lot of interest and many questions from our international partners, in particular within the forum of the International Seabed Authority.

France’s commitment is simply the reflection of the sentiment of urgency and major concern that we are all experiencing faced with the need to protect the ocean, and with it humanity. This commitment is evidently based on science, which reminds us of the essential role of the marine ecosystem in the stabilization of the climate and the protection of biodiversity. As the effects of climate change become increasingly threatening and the erosion of biodiversity continues to accelerate, today it does not seem reasonable to hastily launch a new project, that of deep seabed mining, the environmental impacts of which are not yet known and may be significant for such ancient ecosystems which have a very delicate equilibrium. This concern was already expressed by President Macron last June in Lisbon, on the side-lines of the United Nations Ocean Conference.

Currently, given the absence of scientific knowledge, we cannot today guarantee that mining mineral resources in the Area would not cause irreversible damage to the seabed and its biodiversity. That is why France, which has the second-largest exclusive economic zone, calls on its partners to make the same commitment to preserve this highly valuable marine ecosystem. Our precautionary principle must translate into tangible action, for the benefit of all humankind.

At the same time, exploration to improve our scientific knowledge of the deep seabed must not only continue, but grow, particularly in a framework of international cooperation among researchers around the world. The deep seabed must be what space was during the Cold War: a new frontier for cooperation and multilateralism.

In that respect, France wants to further contribute to this cause by continuing the training activities undertaken and by facilitating the dissemination of the data collected under exploration contracts. This is to make use of and share the information and scientific knowledge acquired in the interest of all.

Lastly, our position is aligned with France’s continued desire to address global matters that are of interest to all entirely transparently, proactively and in the framework of effective multilateralism.

From the outset, France has been and continues to be a fervent supporter of the Authority, the single mission of which has, to this day, enabled the common heritage of mankind that is the Area and its deep seabed to be protected. By issuing exploration contracts, the ISA has usefully contributed to the acquisition of fundamental knowledge to tackle these challenges.

When the ISA was created by the Montego Bay Convention, almost 30 years ago now, the challenges that we face today, the urgency of climate action and the collapse of biodiversity and its ecosystem services, were not the same, however. Our collective work must fully incorporate these challenges today. We must therefore allocate the time needed, which will be much more than initially envisaged, without any industrial or financial pressure, and without letting this work be guided by concerns other than those that are the fruit of knowledge and the need to protect marine ecosystems. As environmental imbalances challenge the living conditions of humankind, it would be dangerous to act with haste, endangering these ecosystems that could be sources of solutions and resilience in the future.

As of now, we are therefore joining all the States that are truly concerned by the protection of this common heritage that is the marine environment and its biodiversity, and who have recently expressed in various ways their concerns over deep seabed mining. In this forum, we are of course open to constructive dialogue with all of your governments and the ISA so that we can make inclusive progress on the knowledge of the seabed for the good of humankind.

9 Nov 2022

SINGAPORE

  • Singapore proposed the Contractor should take all measures to ensure activities in the Area do not cause “serious harm” to the marine environment, as opposed to “harmful effects”. 
  • This was opposed by Italy, Costa Rica, Chile, Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago. 
  • Costa Rica, Chile, Federated States of Micronesia proposed the use of the term “threat of harmful effects”.

COSTA RICA

  • On the proposal by Germany regarding environmental thresholds and the role of the Legal and Technical Commission, Costa Rica raised concerns about the role of contractors in the creation of environmental thresholds and the appointment of experts. The appointment of experts should occur in full transparency, independent of contractors. 
  • This was echoed by Chile, Brazil, Panama and New Zealand.

CHILE

  • Agreed with Costa Rica regarding transparency around the appointment of experts and development of environmental thresholds. The delegation considers that information that needs to be made public, wholly public, because we do not believe that there is here any information that needs to be confidential, as has occurred with the LTC.  

NEW ZEALAND 

  • Regarding the role of contractors, New Zealand agreed that contractors should have no role in decision making.
8 Nov 2022

China

  • Advocated to ensure a reasonable balance between exploitation of resources in the Area and the protection of the marine environment.
  • This was opposed by Costa Rica, Chile, New Zealand, the UK, Norway, Italy and the Netherlands and the paragraph was not amended.

Spain

  • Justified the inclusion of the principle of intergenerational equity. The idea is to introduce the concept of equity between the current and future generations which is implicit in the concept of humanity.  

Federated States of Micronesia

  • Regarding who the Authority shall consult with to develop measures to implement the regulations, the Federated States of Micronesia proposed the inclusion of “relevant adjacent coastal States” or “coastal States contiguous, or in proximity” where there is reference to coastal States, to account for the fact that these States may be affected by mining activities.

United States

  • With regards to who the Authority shall consult with to develop measures to implement the regulations, limiting the focus to the Contract Area may be too limited. Prefer to retain some reference to the Exploitation Area about States potentially affected by activities in the Contract Area.

Australia

  • The delegation reiterated their position that “No exploitation should be finally approved until the regulatory framework is in place.”
4 Nov 2022

UK

  • The UK stated that they are committed to fully engaging in negotiations underway and emphasised that they are keen to see the ISA Council finalise regulations by July 2023.

South Africa

  • On contractors compensating for the loss of common heritage of mankind, South Africa stated that – “You can’t just mine take away the minerals which are common heritage of mankind, and expect that we will allow you to just pay 2% And then off you go.”

Costa Rica

  • The delegation stated that we have neither the required legal framework nor the scientific data, it is why in July 2022 we have made an appeal, we apply the precautionary approach or principle.
  • Costa Rica stated that it is impossible to pretend that we’ll have a legal framework by July 23 on which we should have consensus and that it is not because of a lack of goodwill that we will conclude in July, but simply because it’s something impossible.
  • Costa Rica stated that 90% of the delegates have noted that regulations may not be possible to adopt in July 2023.

Russia

  • The delegation stated that the completion and agreement of regulations need more time, much more than 8 months remaining until July 2023.

Chile

  • Chile stated that they do not see how damage from deep-sea mining would be fixed by planting trees or by making our lives greener…
  • They stated that it is no secret that ⅓ of the members of this Council are sponsoring States so it’s no secret they are interested in granting contracts for exploitation. But a lot of these countries agree with us.
  • Chile reiterated the need for a precautionary pause, to protect the heritage of this generation and future generations.
  • Chile stated that a large number of delegations has not been taken into account in the proposed roadmap.

Germany

  • Germany stated that our primary objective remains a timely adoption of exploitation regulations, standards and guidelines that provide for strict environmental protection.
  • The delegation stated that commencement of deep-sea mining is the single most important decision this Authority has to take, and must concern a majority of the Council.

Canada

  • Canada stated that seabed mining should only take place if consistent with article 145 of UNCLOS and ensures effective protection of the marine environment.
  • The delegation stated that they were not in favor of  approving a plan of work without necessary regulations in place & robust inspection mechanism.

Brazil

  • Brazil stated that at this moment, exploitation contracts should not be granted until an ambitious and accountable mining code has been approved.”
  • No contract should be granted under the 2-year-rule, so difficult to achieve before July23 
  • Suggest that ‘adoption of regulation’ in the roadmap be replaced by ‘review of progress.’

Fiji

  • Fiji called for an extension of the July deadline for working groups to complete their work.

Netherlands

  • The Netherlands stated that in the absence of a fit for purpose regulatory framework exploitation of deep seabed should not commence.

Mexico

  • Mexico stated that we need to develop a legal framework to allow responsible exploitation of the deep sea in the future and we need to take time to do so.

Australia

  • Australia stated that we think that we should continue in good faith to complete the regulations by July of next year

Italy

  • Italy stated that the quality of regulations should not be weakened due to imposed deadlines.

India

  • The delegation stated that “As we are dealing with commercial exploitation of the common heritage of humankind we should not be in a hurry or to be seen to be in a hurry however the 2 year clause did push us to work in this area. We should try to reach consensus and conciliation which is preferred under the convention. India wishes to try to proceed by 2023.
  • India stated that the proposed roadmapo puts a lot of pressure on us and our resources

Japan

  • Agreed with the UK that the Council should continue the work so that we can achieve our goal of adopting regulations by July 2023.

Cuba

  • Cuba called for caution stating that we cannot allow mistakes to be made that will fall on the shoulders of future generations. 
  • The delegation called for transparency in harnessing and protecting the general environment as a whole stating that we cannot move forward until there is a robust framework in place for this in place. We need to guarantee equitable sharing of common heritage of humankind for all, in particular developing countries.

Panama

  • Panama reiterated that given the lack of scientific information for us to take decisions based on evidence, there is a need to implement a precautionary pause with regard to starting mining.

Spain

  • Spain stated that “The two year rule does not matter if we do not have adequate environmental regulations in place.
  • The delegation reiterated calls for a precautionary pause.

Singapore

  • Stated that they joined the emerging consensus that scientific knowledge and robust rules are needed to ensure damage from DSM. With absence of scientific knowledge, exploitation should not proceed.

Switzerland

  • Switzerland stated that with climate, biodiversity loss and pollution, the mandate to protect the marine environment is crucial. Most of the potentially affected ecosystems have not been mapped or studied. Switzerland supports more research to learn more about these areas in order to effectively develop regulations. Switzerland calls for the precautionary approach and regulations and institutional arrangements are required to meet obligations under article 145 of the convention.

Portugal

  • The delegation stated that like many other delegations, we feel it is necessary to conclude these regulations before any exploitation. We need effective compensation, protection of biodiversity and marine environment etc. Technology has to be shown now to demonstrate that it will not hurt  the marine environment.

Nauru

  • Nauru stated that as sponsoring State and in good faith, will not entertain lodging an application in July 2023. We do not wish to prejudice the adoption of regulations by that deadline.
  • “Like the UK and others, we remain optimistic that together we can make significant progress between now and July 2023 and feel confident by the end of July session next year, we will be significantly advanced.”

USA

  • The USA stated that they were keenly concerned about the possibility that we do not have sufficient science to mitigate the efforts of mining.
  • They also highlighted that the US continental shelf is adjacent to the CCZ and indigenous communities have potential to be directly affected by negative effects.
  • The USA stated that it is difficult to see regulations being finalized by July 2023.

Norway

  • Norway stated that they are committed to trying to finish the regulations by 2023.
  • The delegation stated they are committed to obligation to finalise and believe council must redouble efforts

Belgium

  • Belgium said that if the situation is that there are no regulations in July, we will have sleepwalked into the deadline without regulation – there is an optimistic idea that regulations will be adopted.

France

  • France stated that they “support the countries that made an appeal for a precautionary pause absent of mining code, which means that no exploitation contract can be authorized by the authority as long as a legal framework sufficiently that protects the environment sufficiently will not be in place.”

31 Oct 2022

Brazil

  • Brazil called for “close attention to environmental externalities, so that exploitation of minerals in the area starts only when robust and science-based legal frameworks are developed, completed and adopted, without any plan of work for exploitation being approved or any contract being granted.”
  • They also highlighted that “There is an increasing awareness of the dramatic impact of these activities on the marine ecosystems.”
  • Brazil also called for the ISA to be more transparent – including the Legal and Technical Commission, and that issues of confidentiality need to be discussed.

Continue reading Key statements by States – 31.10.22