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Seabed mining, and environmental fear of it, will rise

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Significance

Japan, Norway and the United States have announced plans to tap their own seabed resources, while the UN International Seabed Authority (ISA) has issued permits for international waters. Environmental groups are concerned about the impact of such ventures; understanding of the long-term impact of deep-sea mining is limited.

Impacts

  • Patania II, a 25-tonne mining robot, got stuck some 4 kilometres below the surface of the Pacific Ocean; other disruptions may occur.
  • Canadian/Dutch consortium DeepGreen is set to begin pre-commercial seabed tests in 2022.
  • Google, Samsung SDI, BMW and Volvo have signed up to a Worldwide Fund for Nature initiative for a global moratorium on deep-sea mining.
  • Interest in deep-sea mining could intensify disputes in disputed zones such as the South China Sea, which is rich in polymetallic modules.
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