High demand for metals ranging from copper to cobalt is driving the mining industry to explore the world’s deepest oceans. It’s a troubling development for scientists who warn that extracting minerals from critical ecosystems that help regulate climate could cause irreparable damage.
As part of a two-week conference hosted by the International Seabed Organization, an independent body established by a United Nations treaty, dozens of scientists, lawyers and government officials have gathered in Jamaica to discuss deep-sea mining, as part of the issue. will be in the spotlight this week.
This organization is the global custodian of deep ocean waters not under the jurisdiction of any country. It has issued 31 exploration licenses to date, and many speculate that the world’s first license to take the next step and mining in international waters could soon be approved in the absence of current restrictions. is concerned.
Experts say mining creates noise, light and choking sandstorms deep within Earth’s oceans, which can cause a rush to collect minerals that would take millions of years to unleash.
“It’s one of the most pristine places on earth. Advisor Diva Amon said:
The first exploration licenses were issued in the early 2000s and most of the current exploration activity is concentrated in the Clarion-Clipperton fracture zone covering 1.7 million square miles (4.5 million square kilometers) between Hawaii and Mexico. At least 17 of the 31 licenses have been issued for the zone, with exploration at depths of 13,000 to 19,000 feet (4,000 to 6,000 meters).
The push for deep-sea mining has grown to the point where authorities now meet three times a year instead of two, with key decisions expected as early as July 2023.
Mining companies argue that extracting minerals from the seafloor rather than on land is cheaper and less impactful, avoiding “many environmental and social problems.”・Clipperton zone under 2 contracts.
In a statement, UK Subsea Resources cited some of the impacts of land-based mining, saying: “Abandoned mining dams have collapsed, cultural heritage has been destroyed, rainforests have been cut down, and child miners are still missing. Let’s go,” he said.
The International Seabed Service grants licenses to state-owned enterprises and countries that accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and agree to sponsor private companies seeking to explore international waters for copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, manganese and other minerals. will be issued. In particular, the United States has not joined the law.
of International Energy Agency A report by Fitch Ratings released in early October estimated that demand for minerals would increase six-fold by 2050, given the heavy reliance on minerals for electric vehicles and renewable power generation. I’m here.
“Because of the high emission intensity of cobalt, aluminum and nickel mining and processing, a surge in demand could increase our net carbon footprint,” it said.
NauruIt is a small island located northeast of Australia.
The move has unsettled countries from Germany to Costa Rica looking to tighten proposed regulations within the next two weeks.
“We are still very concerned about the outcome,” Brazil representative Elsa Moreira Marcelino de Castro said at the meeting that started on Monday.
president of france Emmanuel Macron Earlier this year, he said he supported a ban on deep-sea mining. Several major companies have pledged not to use metals extracted from the deep sea, and countries including Germany, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa have imposed moratoriums until more is known about their potential impacts. It is a move that has been welcomed by scientists and legal experts.
“You can’t regulate what you don’t understand,” said Duncan Curry, an international and environmental lawyer and legal counsel for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an alliance of Dutch-based environmental groups.
Less than 1% of the world’s deep ocean water has been explored, and experts say the endeavor is expensive, technical and time-consuming.
The oceans are known to store more carbon than Earth’s atmosphere, plants and soils, and in sample studies that take months or years, scientists have been able to detect new species still during rare expedition trips. Amon says that he is discovering. Among the finds is a ghostly octopus called “Casper”.
“What lives there and how it lives, the global functioning of this ecosystem, and what we lose by irreversibly affecting it, I We don’t understand.” It grows 1 to 10 millimeters every million years. “This means they are very vulnerable to disturbances and very slow to recover.”
Some experts believe it could take six to 20 years or more to collect enough data to protect the marine environment from deep-sea mining, according to the global network Deep Sea Stewardship Initiative. I believe there is.
Other concerns about deep-sea mining include how revenues will be distributed and how companies seeking sponsorship will be vetted and their activities regulated.
Pradeep Singh, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability in Potsdam, Germany, said private companies could buy the country on the basis of tax exemptions and potentially lax environmental laws, among other “convenience sponsorships.” said there was growing concern about cause.
“Quite a few states are starting to frown on what these relationships are going on behind the scenes,” he said.
Singh also said he was concerned that the International Seabed Authority would capture a portion of the proceeds if actual mining commenced, given that the International Seabed Authority will award the license. “It’s a big conflict of interest.”
Authorities did not return messages for comment.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Michael Lodge, Executive Director of the International Seabed Agency, said that as member states work on draft regulations, the agency wants to ensure the protection of the marine environment.
At a meeting earlier this year, he said authorities had expanded the protected area to 1.97 million square kilometers on a vast area where exploration licenses were mostly awarded.
Environmental management plans for other areas under exploration are still under development.
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https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-san-juan-puerto-rico-nauru-international-energy-agency-b2216072.html Exploration for deep-sea minerals scrutinized as environmental protection pushes