17 Jul 2019

Call for moratorium on ocean floor mining

5:58 pm on 17 July 2019

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, with other environmental NGOs, is asking why the world seems hellbent on mining the ocean floor.

The groups have put out a paper, asking 'Why the Rush?'

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Photo: facebook

The waters around several Pacific nations have been at the forefront of the push to mine rare minerals that mining companies claim can be extracted with minimal damage to the ocean floor.

But the NGOs say so little is known about the impacts that it would be irresponsible to go ahead.

The Campaign's co-ordinator, Helen Rosenbaum, said there should be a 20 year moratorium on mining, exploration and efforts by the United Nations International Seabed Authority to draw up regulations.

"So we just think the whole thing needs to stop, the world needs to take a breather and to look at what is going on, because the world has not had a chance to consider this industry and it is being driven by a small handful of people with a vested interest," Ms Rosebaum said.

Mining the ocean floor has been under consideration in the Pacific for some years, particularly in Papua New Guinea where Canadian company Nautilus had laid out big plans.

Ms Rosenbaum said the only assessment that had been done is an impact statement from Nautilus that was flawed and not fit for purpose.

"It doesn't actually identify all the risks that need to be managed," she said.

"So I think, as in the case with a lot of environmental impact statements, this one is a very much, 'blind the general population with science' affair and fairly low on substance."

Apart from the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, MiningWatch Canada, The Ocean Foundation, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and AidWatch were involved in the report 'Why the Rush? Seabed Mining in the Pacific Ocean'

Earlier this month Greenpeace put out a similar report

The ISA said the Greenpeace report misrepresented the Authority's role.

The Authority said the legal regime to regulate prospecting, exploration and future exploitation of deep-sea minerals was being developed in a transparent public forum of consensus-building by the international community and in compliance with international law.

"It is anchored in the driving principle that the proceeds of deep-seabed mining will be shared on a basis of equity, in a transparent manner, and for the benefit of mankind as a whole.

"There is no other comparable regime that places protection of the environment and benefit to humanity at the front and centre of its mandate."

Sampling copper under the sea

Sampling copper under the sea Photo: Nautilus Minerals

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