Mining Companies Set to Exploit the Deep Sea

4 days ago 2 min read
August 10, 2020
By: Lauren Pezzullo

Our earth’s oceans are in danger. Overfishing, coastal pollution, habitat destruction, and global warming are all major contributors. But there’s another severe threat looming—deep sea mining. Companies and governments are racing to explore the deep sea for profitable gain, digging the ocean floor for metals and minerals such as silver, gold, copper, manganese, cobalt, zinc, among others. The rush to mine the depths of our ecologically sensitive waters means one thing: our oceans are more threatened now than ever before.

Scientists are urging governments and companies against deep sea mining. They warn of the irreversible destruction it may cause—both at the mine sites and beyond— including:

  • The devastation of fragile marine habitats

  • Disruption of the ocean’s “biological pump”

  • The loss of microbes important for storing carbon

  • A significant loss of biodiversity

  • Permanent destruction of our ocean ecosystems

Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped the corporations and governments set on exploiting our vulnerable natural resources for profit. In fact, dozens of exploratory licenses have already been issued for vast expanses of the sea bed—an urgent issue set for debate at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s 2020 Congress meeting.

It’s up to environmental advocates everywhere—from the IUCN to you, right now, reading this article, to join the fight against commercial deep sea mining. Together, we can help save our ocean floors from the companies and governments who want to capitalize on these vulnerable natural resources, including:

  • De Beers Group: The world’s largest diamond producer is conducting their own deep sea mining—not for polymetallic nodules, seafloor massive sulphides, and cobalt-rich crusts, but for diamonds. They currently operate the largest underwater mining fleet of ships in the world, which travel across the West African seabed, pulverizing diamond-bearing deposits and pumping them to the surface.

  • DeepGreen Metals: This Canadian start-up company has become one of the most vocal proponents for deep sea mining. They plan to extract cobalt and other battery metals from small rocks covering the seafloor, and have already secured funding from Switzerland-based offshore pipeline company Allseas Group.

  • Beijing Pioneer Hi-Tech Development Corporation: (BPHDC)- This state-owned enterprise, sponsored by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, has already been granted an exploration contract by the ISA to mine polymetallic nodules in the Western Pacific Ocean.

  • The Government of the Republic of Poland: Last year, the ISA granted Poland an exploration license in an area highlighted by Unesco for exploring polymetallic nodule areas and polymetallic sulfide areas.

  • Neptune Minerals: This leader of deep ocean minerals exploration and resource development focuses on exploring and developing seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits.

How You Can Help Protect Our Seabeds

The ocean floor is so much more than an expanse of sand. It’s a dynamic landscape that serves as a home to countless different ecosystems and helps support our own life on land—which makes protecting it now more critical than ever. Want to join the collective effort against deep sea mining? Sign up here to learn more about seabed mining updates and be a part of of the solution.