deep sea mining

7 Nov 2023

Thank you Mr Co-Facilitator

This intervention is on behalf of Greenpeace, WWF, the Ocean Foundation, Oceans North, Environmental Justice Foundation, Sustainable Ocean Alliance as well as the DSCC. 

Firstly we support Pew’s intervention earlier about stakeholder participation. Secondly, we support Ghana’s intervention and we strongly urge the need for a formal review procedure. We believe there is value in a formal regular review procedure undertaken regularly, as well as a structured review more frequently if needed. Environmental effects cannot wait 5 years, particularly if an environmental issue arises, there is a need to keep regulations under review. When the need arises to review the regulations, that should not be delayed such as for a five year period review. We would also note that completely removing the regulation would also require the Council to reach a decision via consensus every time to review the regulations. 

Lastly on paragraph 5, we are concerned about paragraph 5 that pertains to conditions for the amendment of regulations. Issues relating to the detriment to the environment must prevail over any detriment to contractors. It is critical that any amendment would be applicable to any and all contracts.

Thank you Mr Co-Facilitator.

6 Nov 2023

DR 70

On behalf of Oceans North and DSCC.

Thank you Mr Facilitator and Fakamālō Atu Tonga on their constitution day over the weekend.

The suggestion in paragraph 1 of contractors paying in advance for proposed damage to ecosystem services and natural capital contradicts Article 145 of the Convention by implicitly acknowledging and accepting damage to the environment as necessary and acceptable.

Not only can natural capital not be valued, but the anticipated damage to the environment is a reason for not doing the mining in the first place, rather than to stimulate an advance payment to facilitate the damage. Such damage is exactly why a moratorium is needed, now.

24 Jul 2023

For immediate release – 24.7.23

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is facing mounting pressure as governments, scientists, industry experts, environmental organizations and concerned citizens rally to halt deep-sea mining, while a handful of States and mining companies seek to forge ahead. The ISA Council meeting closed on Friday and the ISA Assembly meeting begins today, closing on 28 July. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) has been present throughout negotiations in Kingston.

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the ISA Council meeting ended with no deep-sea mining code (the term for the mining regulations) adopted. The mining industry was banking on the ISA opening the gates to commercial-scale deep-sea mining this July, but Member States of the Council did not give the green light. However, the legal loophole that would allow a company to apply for a provisional licence to mine even in the absence of a mining code remains open, leaving the world’s most pristine environment still at risk.

The focus now turns to the ISA Assembly, the supreme organ of the ISA, where States are set to formally discuss, for the first time in ISA history, the growing call for a ‘pause’ on deep-sea mining. The Assembly has the power to close the legal loophole that would allow the industry to begin strip-mining vast areas of the deep ocean by establishing a moratorium on the extractive activity. An open debate on deep-sea mining at the Assembly would allow all 168 ISA Member States, not just the 36 Members of the ISA Council, to express their views on this critical issue and formulate a general policy for the protection of the marine environment.

The growing opposition to deep-sea mining from a broad spectrum of society clearly demonstrates that there is no social license for deep-sea mining to begin. We need all governments in the room at the ISA Assembly to make a moratorium a reality and safeguard the health of our ocean. Stopping the industry in its tracks is the only responsible way forward.”

DSCC’S Global Deep-Sea Mining Campaign Lead, Sofia Tsenikli

The Assembly meeting comes immediately after a Council meeting where a handful of governments and delegations, namely Norway, Mexico, UK, China and Nauru, continued to push for the mining code to be adopted as soon as possible. However, as the DSCC warned, if the mining code that States are negotiating is eventually adopted, the largest mining operation in human history could become a reality with no way back.

Strip-mining the most fragile, undisturbed and critical habitats on our planet would inevitably cause permanent large-scale damage. With or without regulations, the end result would be the same: extinction of species; permanent habitat loss; impacts on carbon sequestration and fisheries and cultural heritage undermined.”

DSCC Policy Officer, Emma Wilson

A growing number of governments, including Brazil, France, Costa Rica, Vanuatu, Germany and Chile pushed back against attempts to fast-track the adoption of a mining code because of insurmountable gaps in scientific understanding. Just before the start of the meeting of the ISA Council, a number of governments including Canada, Brazil, Finland, and Portugal all joined the wave of opposition, calling for a precautionary pause or moratorium. 21 countries have now taken positions in favour of suspending the opening of international waters to deep-sea mining.

In addition, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights called for a moratorium this month, warning that “The combined potential impacts from mining and other stressors on the marine environment (such as climate change, unsustainable fishing, and pollution) are catastrophic.” The global seafood sector condemned the emerging industry following the publication of a new paper warning of socioeconomic and environmental impacts and conflict between deep-sea mining and some of the world’s most profitable fisheries. The UK Labour party called for a moratorium and U.S. Congressman Ed Case introduced legislation calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining in international waters. Prominent scientists continue to highlight the inevitable irreversible consequences deep-sea mining would have if permitted to go ahead and underscore the need for urgent action. Furthermore, 37 global financial institutions in a signed letter, representing over €3.3 trillion of combined assets, urged governments to prevent deep-sea mining to go ahead to “protect the ocean”.

Issues concerning the poor governance and lack of transparency of the ISA continued to arise during the Council meetings. New restrictions were placed by the ISA Secretariat on the participation of global media and observers present during the negotiations, even refusing to allow journalists to attend the Assembly meetings this week. The DSCC joined Greenpeace, Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, Oceans North, Pacific Blue Line, the Pacific Network on Globalisation and The Ocean Foundation in calling on the ISA Secretary General to accredit media for the Assembly meeting and reverse the restrictions to enable freedom of expression and equal participation.

The DSCC now urges Member States of the ISA Assembly to strive for the highest level of ambition and prevent the ISA from being bound to arbitrary deadlines and legal loopholes, activated on behalf of mining companies for the sake of short term profit.

“The pressure by a few for a timeline to agree to future regulations amounts to pressure to green-light mining when so many are calling for a moratorium or precautionary pause. We urge the governments which have called for a moratorium or pause to continue to show leadership by spearheading the discussions for a deep-sea mining moratorium at the ISA Assembly meeting this week.”

DSCC Legal Advisor, Duncan Currie

The past two weeks of negotiations have clearly demonstrated that governments do not yet agree on whether mining should go forward and whether it can even be regulated to prevent damage to the marine environment. We are asking all 169 members of the ISA Assembly to collectively recognize that we cannot continue to make the mistakes of the past 300 years by opening up whole new frontiers of the planet to large-scale industrial resource extraction in spite of the clear warnings from scientists that loss of deep-sea species, biodiversity and ecosystems will inevitably occur.”

DSCC Political and Policy Advisor, Matthew Gianni

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10 Jul 2023

MEDIA RELEASE

For release 10th July 2023 00:00 BST

This week, countries from around the world will convene in Kingston, Jamaica to negotiate rules and regulations that if agreed and adopted, would open up our ocean to the largest mining operation humanity has ever seen. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) urges governments to draw a line in the sand and support a moratorium on the destructive, emerging industry.

As global governments descend on Kingston from July 10th – 28th for the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council and Assembly meetings, the controversial deep-sea mining industry is thrown into the international spotlight once again. The meetings coincide with the deadline of a legal loophole triggered by the Pacific island of Nauru on behalf of the mining company, Nauru Offshore Resources Inc, a subsidiary of Canadian would-be miners, The Metals Company. This loophole could open the way for mining applications to be given the green light even without regulations in place. Standing in opposition, an increasing number of governments are realizing that the most responsible approach to safeguarding our ocean and averting irreversible harm, is through a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

“States have been rushing to develop and adopt a Mining Code for the last two years at the ISA Council. The very fact this has not been possible is confirmation of the glaring scientific gaps that exist, the volume of unaddressed regulatory issues and the growing global backlash to an industry we know will cause irreversible destruction to our ocean at a time when we should be obsessed with protecting it. The ISA Assembly must safeguard our ocean by establishing a moratorium on deep-sea mining, so that we do not continue to make the same mistakes that led us to the multiple environmental crises we face today.”

DSCC Policy Officer Emma Wilson

This year, the ISA Assembly will discuss a proposal to defer the advance of deep-sea mining, led by Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau and Vanuatu. This puts the need for a long term suspension of deep-sea mining formally on the ISA negotiating table for the first time in the ISA’s history.

The race to defend the ocean is heating up at the ISA. The threat of deep-sea mining is looming, but it is fantastic to see global momentum against the destructive industry grow. We call on all States to stand up and be counted by establishing a deep-sea mining moratorium at the ISA Assembly. By hitting the brakes on deep-sea mining, governments will be prioritizing the health of our ocean for future generations over short term profit. Anything less would run contrary to their ocean protection obligations, including those enshrined in the recently adopted High Seas Biodiversity Treaty. ” 

DSCC Deep Sea Mining Moratorium Campaign Lead, Sofia Tsenikli

Last Friday, the DSCC launched a new campaign action calling on members of the public to urge their country’s Ministers to support a moratorium on the industry. Switzerland are the latest in a long line of governments adding their voice to calls for a moratorium, precautionary pause or ban, which includes: Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Fiji, Germany, Federated States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Spain, Switzerland and Vanuatu. 

More than 750 scientists and recently, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), have warned about the unavoidable and irreversible impacts of deep-sea mining if it were to go ahead. Resistance to the industry has also been felt across a broad spectrum of society. In addition to the growing resistance from governments and scientists, global companies including BMW Group, Google, Volswagen and global financial institutions including the European Investment Bank have all called for a moratorium on the industry and/or pledged to keep deep-sea minerals out of their investments and supply chains. Indigenous leaders, the fisheries sector, youth groups and civil society have all urged ISA member States to rethink the rush to mine the deep. 

Contrary to prospectors’ claims, the battery industry continues to move away from the minerals deep-sea miners seek to target in favour of a new generation of batteries that reuses these materials – or does not use them at all. A new EASAC report, which calls for a deep-sea mining moratorium, highlighted that “the argument that deep-sea mining is essential to meet the demands for critical materials, is thus contested and does not support the urgency with which exploitation of deep-sea minerals is being pursued.”

“Deep-sea mining is not the route to decarbonization that its proponents tout it to be, nor will it replace land-based mining or somehow be ‘better’ than land-based mining. The rush to open the deep sea by the International Seabed Authority is being driven by a company operating for pure self-gain. If the ISA begins permitting deep-sea mining, it will be based on a false notion that the world ‘needs’ deep-sea metals, be detrimental to the planet and humankind as a whole and only serve to line the pockets of a few corporations in the global North.”

DSCC Policy Adviser Matthew Gianni

Countries will also continue negotiations on a decision of the ISA Council anticipating an application for mining from The Metals Company and potentially closing the 2 year loophole.

It is clear that States do not want mining to go ahead in the absence of regulations. Regulations must not be adopted unless certain other crucial conditions are met, such as having adequate science and ensuring that the environment is effectively protected.” 

DSCC international Legal Adviser, Duncan Currie

The DSCC will be present in Kingston throughout negotiations, advocating for a moratorium on deep-sea mining and calling for reform of the ISA to ensure it becomes a more transparent, inclusive and effective decision-making body that acts on behalf of humankind as a whole. The Authority, and particularly its Secretary General, has recently faced scrutiny for having a pro-mining bias.

ENDS

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Notes to editors

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is the UN intergovernmental body charged both with regulating any deep-sea mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction and with ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment. 

Additional quotes from DSCC members

The deep ocean is the blue heart of our planet- it helps to make life on earth possible. Global governments are at a crossroads. They have the opportunity to stand on the right side of history and say enough is enough by supporting a moratorium on a new destructive industry that we don’t need or want.” – Sian Owen, DSCC Director.

Stopping deep-sea mining means protecting the largest habitat on the planet, facing down the newest frontier of neo-colonial extractivism and challenging techno-fixes that label destruction as green and necessary. Today, we can stop an industry from gaining a foothold and ravaging one of our last biodiverse boundaries – the precious ecosystems of the ocean’s floor.” – Lousia Casson, Global Project Lead Greenpeace. 

The WWF commissioned Future is Circular report published in November sets out that we can reduce demand for the minerals that the deep-seabed mining industry is looking at by 58% – and this is based upon the IEA 2050 Net zero scenario. Deep-seabed mining is not necessary, and will come too late to contribute to the energy transition, where minerals primarily are needed in the short term.”– Jessica Battle, Global Lead for WWF’s No Deep Seabed Mining Initiative. 

A huge reservoir of biodiversity resides in the deep sea, with thousands of species still yet to even be discovered. It also plays an important but understudied role in vital Earth systems such as carbon cycling and storage. Seabed mining, regulated or otherwise, must not proceed before addressing the extensive gaps in scientific knowledge about the potential impacts on the deep-sea ecosystem and the crucial services it provides to us and our planet.” – Julian Jackson, Senior Manager, Ocean Governance, at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

12 Nov 2022

The deliberations of this Council meeting, while our governments meet in Egypt to tackle the climate crisis, have shown clearly that humanity has arrived at a crossroads. 

What has brought us here is a broken relationship with nature and a system that puts profit before sustainability, that perpetuates our dependence on finite resources, damages the environment, and causes scarcity, inequity and insecurity in our societies. Among those benefiting from this system are corporations, such as oil and gas companies, that even today continue to accumulate wealth while people and communities are left in crisis. The UN Secretary General was speaking for scientists, youth and citizens across the world when he said in his opening remarks at the UNFCCC COP27 that we are on “a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator”. 

In this Council meeting, “good faith” is equated to forging ahead on a pathway we know is perilous, by empowering mining corporations to strip mine the last remaining pristine areas of our planet for profit. By letting deep-sea mining happen, possibly as soon as next year, our generation is literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, knowing well that the consequences will be felt by those to come. 

But as we stand together at this crossroads, we know there is another path. It has been shown to us by millions of people worldwide who care deeply about the ocean, and a growing number of States namely Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Ecuador, New Zealand, Germany, Panama and France who want to hit the brakes on deep-sea mining.  

Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have wide-ranging and even catastrophic impacts, wiping out fragile habitats and species and disturbing the ocean carbon cycle1, we ask governments to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first. 

To those States not yet onboard we say this: Take the foot off the accelerator and hit the brakes. We urge you to listen to the calls for precaution and protection and come at the next Council meeting ready to walk alongside those who are resisting deep-sea mining, for the benefit of humankind and in ‘good faith’ towards future generations. A deep-sea mining moratorium is the way forward.

1 Undisturbed: The deep ocean’s vital role in safeguarding us from crisis, is a new report by scientists from the Benioff Ocean Initiative, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, highlighting the important role of the deep ocean in mitigating climate change and warning of the serious threats the deep sea faces.

11 Nov 2022

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) today concluded the 27th Meeting of the Council amidst mounting international resistance to the controversial emerging deep-sea mining industry.

As the moment of truth draws ever closer, the political momentum against deep-sea mining is gaining ground. In the space of six months alone, 12 States have made bold political decisions that put nature where it should be: front and centre. Over the course of the meeting, France, New Zealand, Germany and Panama joined Palau, Fiji, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Chile, Costa Rica, Spain and Ecuador in calling to pull back from the brink of a vast new extractive sector on the grounds of the environmental, social and economic risks. 

French President Emmanuel Macron called for a ban in an opening address at COP27 and France reaffirmed this position during the ISA meeting this week, warning: “As the effects of climate change become increasingly threatening and the erosion of biodiversity continues to accelerate, today it does not seem reasonable to hastily launch a new project, that of deep seabed mining, the environmental impacts of which are not yet known and may be significant for such ancient ecosystems which have a very delicate equilibrium.” 

The DSCC and its member organisations called on countries to prioritise safeguarding the health of the ocean by defending the deep from destructive exploitation.

The DSCC’s Campaign Lead Sofia Tsenikli stated: “World leaders are finally waking up to the imminent risks of deep-sea mining and the need to protect the blue heart of our planet that sustains us all. Rather than being remembered as the generation that delivered the final blow to our planet by unleashing a new industry which could have catastrophic impacts, we urge States to put sustainability and intergenerational equity first. The DSCC welcomes the leadership shown by countries calling for a stop to deep-sea mining and we urge all States to follow before it is too late.

The Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI), a global network of deep sea scientists, present throughout negotiations, continued to warn delegates that species extinction and damage to fragile deep sea ecosystems would be inevitable and irreversible if the industry were to go ahead. A new scientific report presented during the meeting at a side event hosted by the DSCC and Sustainable Ocean Alliance, also highlights the risks that deep-sea mining poses to critical carbon stores and biodiversity in the deep sea.

The ISA meeting focused on negotiating a ‘mining code’ that, if adopted, would allow countries to apply for mining contracts as early as July 2023, due to the triggering of a loophole referred to as the “two-year rule”. Despite a number of States backing variously a precautionary pause, moratorium or ban, there is still a very real possibility that this destructive industry could commence next year as countries such as the UK and Norway are pushing for adoption of regulations by July 2023. 

On the penultimate day of Council, serious concerns were raised about the ability of the Authority to act as an effective regulator for an industry that could open the largest mining operation ever seen in human history. Almost unanimous concern was raised across Council on repeated violations that have already taken place by would-be miners during the exploration phase of deep-sea mining. Numerous delegations also raised concerns over the Authority’s recent approval of test-mining, which was granted behind closed doors, without any consultation with stakeholders or ISA member countries. 

The DSCC’s Legal Advisor, Duncan Currie stated that “It is clear that as it stands the Authority is not fit to act as an effective regulator of a new, destructive industry that threatens to incur enormous damage on deep-sea habitats and ecosystems.” Currie added: “Rather than catalyse the rush to mine the deep, the ISA should focus on promoting deep-sea scientific research, to advance the protection of critical and fragile deep-sea habitats.” 

Emma Wilson, the DSCC Policy Officer stated: “Rather than opening up a new frontier of industrial mining and extending the footprint of terrestrial mining into the depths of our ocean, we should be moving towards more environmentally and socially responsible models of production, consumption and reuse.” Wilson added “World leaders have a unique opportunity to take concrete action to protect one of our planet’s last wilderness areas from irreversible destruction – the only way forward is a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

ENDS

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11 Nov 2022

DR 22

This intervention is given on behalf of The Ocean Foundation as well as DSCC. 

This provision raises the possibility of a contract being pledged as security, and therefore of the mortgagor stepping in the place of the contractor or selling the contract: then the provisions ensuring the suitability of the contractor in Draft Regulation 13 are pointless. Anybody could then be doing the mining. Further, if a contract can be pledged as security, that could render any financial security meaningless, as the only real asset could be the contract itself: a circular outcome that further brings into question where, in what format, and in how much money would  actually be set aside to fulfill various Contractor obligations under the Regulations.

No public participation would have addressed the technical and financial fitness of the owner of the contract and effective control would be rendered meaningless.

Being able to transfer contracts in this way for purely financial reasons could enable a whole new contractor to carry out activities in the Area.

To be specific: we noted last week that Tongan contractor TOML was bought by DeepGreen, yet the due diligence on technical and financial appropriateness was only done for Nautilus, which was by that stage in liquidation.

DR 23

Thank you, on behalf of Oceans North and DSCC, we welcome the comments from PEW, and wish to comment further. We consider DR 23 to be a dangerous provision, as it allows an entity other than the assessed applicant to carry out mining. There is no residual discretion to refuse a transfer even though the identity of the contractor is very important. Currently DR 23 (paragraph 7) reads the LTC “shall recommend approval of the application”  if criteria are satisfied. There is no discretion. It would be unacceptable that a whole different contractor should step into the previous contractor’s shoes, so to speak, automatically after the mining application has been predicated on the assessment of the identity of the applicant under DR 13.

DR 24

This is a critical provision about change in control. The discussions here must be aligned with the discussions of effective control in the institutional working group. We have three points about this draft regulation 24.

Firstly, controlling interest is not defined in paragraph 1 and must be discussed in the context of the Institutional Working Group. 

Secondly, currently as drafted in paragraph 3 the Secretary-General would have full power to determine whether the contractor will have the financial capability to meet its obligations under the exploitation contract. 

Thirdly, even if the Secretary-General does decide to notify the Commission, the only consequence under paragraph 4 is that the Commission shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Council. In other words, there are no consequences to a change in control: this goes to the heart of both effective control and the assessment of the contractor.

DR 27

Contractors should not be required to start commercial mining. There could be many reasons a contractor chooses not to start mining, including concerns or lack of information on the environmental effects of any mining.

Indeed, TMC itself stated in a recent US Securities and Exchange Commission SEC filing that, and I quote, “Operations in the CCZ are certain to disturb wildlife and may impact ecosystem function. Impacts on CCZ biodiversity may never be completely and definitively known”. 

This lack of knowledge underlines why a moratorium on deep-sea mining is essential.

DR 28

Paragraph 3 would require the contractor to suspend production whenever such reduction or suspension is required to protect the Marine Environment from harm or to protect health and safety. We read this as additional to emergency orders to require the contractor to take action before any such measures.

But as discussed in other working groups, the threshold of serious harm is too dangerous. The applicable standard should be to protect the marine environment from any harm as required by  Article 145.

10 Nov 2022

IN RESPONSE TO FRANCE’S STATEMENT ON A BAN ON DEEP-SEA MINING

Bonjour à toutes et à toutes, Monsieur le Président, chers délégués,

Je m’appelle Anne-Sophie Roux, je fais partie d’un réseau international de jeunes engagés pour l’océan, la Sustainable Ocean Alliance, dont je suis la représentante en France. 

Ici, avec la Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, je fais partie des quelques jeunes envoyés siéger dans ces négociations, qui sont absolument cruciales pour notre génération. Car cette génération, tout comme les suivantes, fait déjà face aux conséquences dramatiques de la crise environnementale. Et l’exploitation minière des fonds marins ne ferait que l’empirer. 

Or, face à l’accélération de la crise climatique, l’océan est notre plus grand allié. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de le compromettre.Face à la 6e extinction de masse, nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre de rayer de la carte des espèces entières que les scientifiques commencent tout juste à découvrir et à comprendre.

Good morning to all, Mr. President, dear delegates,

My name is Anne-Sophie Roux, I am part of an international network of young people committed to the ocean, the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, of which I am the representative in France. 

Here, with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, I am one of the few young people sent to sit in on these negotiations, which are absolutely crucial for our generation. 

Because this generation, like the next, is already facing the dramatic consequences of the environmental crisis. And seabed mining would only make it worse. 

As the climate crisis accelerates, the ocean is our greatest ally. We cannot afford to compromise it.

In the face of the sixth mass extinction, we cannot afford to wipe out entire species that scientists are just beginning to discover and understand.

I would like to thank France for joining the growing movement of States that raise the alarm on the necessity to oppose the adoption of the mining code and the approval of mining contracts. I would like to congratulate France for setting this level of ambition to stop deep seabed mining. France and the States in this room have made international commitments to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. Today, I can say that I am proud that my country is upholding these commitments. 

We are here, at this stage, thanks to a mobilization that started with Palau, Fiji, Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia – the countries of the Global Alliance of Countries calling for a Moratorium on deep seabed mining in the Pacific and around the world. We are here thanks to  Chile, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Panama, and Ecuador, who have made bold political decisions that put nature where it should be: front and center. 

We are here thanks to the Global Alliance of Parliamentarians that was announced at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. We are here thanks to the massive civil society and youth mobilization, online and on the field, in France and all over the world. 

So the vision is here. And we should not forget that there is an agenda for 2023 and we need to secure that there is no mining code adopted and no exploitation starting. 

In response to those who have raised UNCLOS: As France said, our work should meet the challenges of today, including biodiversity. Let us not find obstacles and build fences, but instead find pathways and bridges to protect the ocean. Already BBNJ is close to being finalised. We need that kind of creativity and openness to moving forwards. 

The deep ocean is needed to mitigate the climate crisis. The deep ocean is needed to not make the collapse of biodiversity worse. The deep ocean is needed to sustain living conditions on Earth. The deep ocean is the common heritage of human and non-human kind. This is our duty to protect it.

Thank you Mr. President for the floor.

ON THE NAURU OCEAN RESOURCES INC (NORI) ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT

Thank you Mr President

We take the floor on behalf of DSCC and Oceans North regarding the recently approved NORI EIS, announced by The Metals Company in September. 

We align ourselves with the observations from the IUCN and the States that have raised concerns, and in particular stress our objections to the fact that the revised EIS was examined and approved behind closed doors, by a small sub-group of the LTC under silence procedure, with no notification to stakeholders, the public, or Council. We are concerned that the LTC did not meet its obligations, in that the Guidelines clearly state in paragraph 41f, that in the event the contractor resubmits the EIS, the revision must be subject to stakeholder consultation. And yet, as many others have noted, it was not. Furthermore, at no stage did Council have any opportunity to review the revised document, which, as observed by a number of delegates, still has not been made public  – and which allows NORI to mine 3600 tonnes of nodules. 

Test mining has therefore begun, without a single state saying “yes” to it. The approval was granted by a mere handful of human beings – hardly representative of humankind as a whole. As we sit here, a dangerous extractive experiment is underway.

Many of us were present for last week’s presentation of the test mining being undertaken in the Pacific Ocean as we speak. The presentation failed to show a single image of the mining area after the removal of nodules, or the marine life that has been harmed or indeed killed over the last few weeks. There was no acknowledgement of the species impacted on the seafloor or throughout the water column. It was also clear that no sampling was undertaken in the water column where the return discharge was taking place prior to deciding the depth of the plume release. The DSCC finds this revelation highly concerning as scientists have repeatedly warned us of the impact of sediment plumes, whether or not the plume is toxic. Additionally, this means a plume of unknown composition was being released into the ecosystem.  

Fundamentally, this underlines two conclusions:

  1. The ISA is not fit for purpose in regulating deep-sea mining and associated activities. If this EIA for a component test could escape scrutiny so easily under the Recommendations, there is no hope for an EIA under the two year loophole where there are no applicable recommendations or procedures in place.
  2. No amount of manoeuvring can avoid the fact repeatedly emphasized by DOSI and many other scientists that there is no baseline available and will not be for many years, and without that baseline, effects cannot be assessed. As was stressed eloquently by the youth at our side event on Monday, we are seeing shifting baselines in ecosystems we have years of data for, but we simply do not have that data for the deep sea. We cannot continue to tacitly accept and exacerbate the loss of biodiversity. 

Thank you.

DR 18

Paragraph 4 currently provides that an exploitation contract shall provide for security of tenure and shall not be revised, suspended or terminated except in the stated restrictive situations.

We note in this content that Article 19 of Annex III provides in paragraph 2 that “Any contract entered into in accordance with article 153, paragraph 3, may be revised only with the consent of the parties.” (being the ISA Secretary General and the contractor)

This more than any other provision underlines why a moratorium on deep-sea mining is necessary. A contract granted may be in force for 60 years or more, including multiple 10 year renewals. This gives rise to the crucial question of intergenerational equity: multiple future generations would be saddled with these damaging contracts if deep-sea mining were to go ahead.  With climate change, biodiversity crises and unanticipated situations, anything can happen. A contractor should not be able to insist on pressing ahead with damaging mining based on a contract granted decades ago, regardless of intervening situations.

9 Nov 2022

INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON INSTITUTIONAL MATTERS

DR 4

On this agenda item, we have two brief observations. Firstly, we join the many delegations on the need to ensure that all references are aligned with Article 145 and refer to ‘harmful effects’.

Secondly, there is no reference to the loss or degradation of biodiversity and “damage to flora and fauna” is not broad enough to capture this concept as a whole.

DR 5

While the new (c) and (d) would require that there is sufficient information that the applicant has the necessary financial, technical and operational capability to carry out the proposed Plan of Work, there is a fundamental problem. As we discussed last week, contracts can be assigned under Regulation 23, so that a new unassessed company could carry out any mining. This possibility must be considered in this context.