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Deep-sea Mining: World’s seabed regulator is accused of reckless failures | Deep-sea mining

Deep-sea Mining: World’s seabed regulator is accused of reckless failures | Deep-sea mining

Barge leaving port for OGV at sea, showing jetty infrastructure & floating jetty

After an independent body that reports on negotiations was thrown out, UN-affiliated organisation responsible for deep-sea-mining, a controversial, new industry, was accused of failings in transparency.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is a non-governmental organization, will meet this week at Kingston, Jamaica’s council headquarters to discuss regulations for the new industry. This week, it was revealed that Earth Negotiations Bulletin, a division of IISD, had not been renewed its contract. It had previously covered ISA negotiations.

Although the ISA negotiations can be viewed live via webcam, the absence ENB which would have created a permanent, independent record of proceedings was deemed a significant loss to stakeholders.

Germany, along with other countries, is also concerned that the ISA is developing its mining guidelines and standards behind closed doors. They do not have sufficient knowledge about deep-sea ecosystems or the potential effects of mining in the marine environment to allow them to move forward.

Scientists warn that mining nickel, cobalt or other metals on deep-seabeds will cause irreversible damage and be reckless to ecosystems. One estimateIt is estimated that 90% of deep-sea animals that scientists encounter are new to science.

The ISA is being criticized for its rush to create a roadmap that can be adopted before 9th July 2023, despite growing opposition to deep-sea mines. The plan was initiated by Nauru, an island in the Pacific, who informed the ISA that it planned to begin mining the seabed within two years via a subsidiary Canadian company, The Metals Company (TMC), which was previously known as DeepGreen Metals. This invoked an obscure clause from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which stated that regulations must be finalized by the ISA within two years from such an announcement.

Google, BMW, Volvo, and Samsung SDI, an electronics company that makes batteries, have all joined a World Wildlife Fund call to end deep-sea mining. This will impact the potential market for deep sea minerals for smartphone and car batteries.

The ISA stated that the ENBs contract had been terminated due budget cuts. The IISD, however, stated that it was now raising money to be able cover the July round. Matthew TenBruggencate, IISD’s spokesperson, stated that transparency is important, especially for developing countries and small islands who cannot attend.

Germany and environmentalists expressed concern about the lack of transparency at the ISAs technical and legal commission (LTC), which is charged with developing standards and guidelines to the mining code. It meets behind closed doors.

The LTC consists of 30 members. One fifth of them work as contractors for deep-sea mine companies.

Germany’s opening remarks on the ISAs site highlighted the lack of stakeholder comments or marked-up modifications in the LTCs draft guidelines and standards document.

Barge leaving port for OGV at sea, showing jetty infrastructure & floating jetty
A barge that is used to transport and mine titanium mineral, sands, off Mozambique in East Africa.Photograph by Greenshoots Communications/Alamy

It said that a markup document regarding the draft regulation provided by the facilitator would be extremely helpful for our negotiations in order to be transparent. We suggest that the council requests such a document.

Germany also stated that the mining code did not contain binding and measurable normative requirements to protect marine life. It argued that the current standards, guidelines, and regulations don’t yet contain specific environmental minim requirements for measurable polluting, sediment plumes, biodiversity, noise, and light impacts, so the code as it stands will not effectively regulate future mines.

According to it, the current state-of-knowledge is not sufficient to enable us to extract mineral resources.

It supported the EU’s formal position that marine minerals can not be exploited until the effects of deep-sea drilling on biodiversity, human activities, and the marine environment have been adequately researched and understood. Technology and operational practices can also be used to show that the environment is not being seriously damaged, in accordance with the precautionary principle.

Other countries, such as Chile, Costa Rica, Costa Rica, and the Netherlands, took similar precautionary measures, highlighting the gap in scientific knowledge about the deep sea.

According to observers, the UK has been pushing forward for rapid development of regulations despite not being part of the EU.

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According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the UK government is participating in ISA negotiations in order to ensure that high environmental standards are adopted in deep-sea mine regulations. A spokesperson said that any ongoing conversations supporting this should not be understood as support for deep sea mining.

Duncan Currie, an international attorney with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition that is following the negotiations, stated that he was concerned about the lack of transparency.

The LTC meets behind closed doors and there is no transparency. Although it sounds innocuous, the LTC is the decision-making body within ISA.

Currie would like to see an Antarctic protocol-style moratorium on deep sea mining. The whole area surrounding deep-sea miners is a political and scientific minefield. A moratorium should be in place.

The possibility to stop mining was also not included in the guidelines and standards.

Greenpeace, a participant at the talks, demanded reform of the ISAs Secretariat. It was accused of bias towards allowing mining, to the detriment to the environment.

Arlo Shemphill, an oceans activist for Greenpeace USA, said that there are many elephants in this room. There is not enough time and science to get it just right.

The ISA secretariat was contacted for comment, but did not respond.

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