The prospect of the first large scale deep see mining project has this year come a lot closer when a deal was announced between a small Pacific island of Nauru and a subsidiary of a Canadian firm, The Metals Company (TMC).
As the Guardian describes it in a lengthy article on deep sea mining yesterday: “the sound of that (starting) shot has reverberated through government offices, conservation movements and scientific academies …”
The starting shot refers to a “two-year rule”, which essentially sets a deadline for the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to finish a rule book which will entail a set of internationally agreed operating rules for deep sea mining.
Once approved, the Nauru subsidiary of TMC – Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI) can apply for a permit to start mining in the Clarion-Clipperton zone between Hawaii and Mexico.
Anthony O’Sullivan, Chief Development Officer at The Metals Company, will give a talk at the conference NCS Exploration – Deep Sea Minerals in Bergen, October 19-21: The Exploration, Resource Evaluation, and Development of the NORI – D Area in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Pacific Ocean.
But, as the Guardian puts it; the people from Nauru should be aware of the imminent environmental risks related to going ahead with the deep sea operation. The islanders can witness the destruction of mineral extraction on a daily basis, as the island’s topsoil was stripped of phosphate by the British, Germans, New Zealanders and Australians in a hunt for fertilisers. This has turned the island in a wasteland.
At the same time, projections for global demand of batteries are continuously being revised upwards, with Rystad Energy forecasting the latest estimates being close to 7 TWh in 2030 and approximately 20 TWh in 2040. Today, demand manoeuvres around 0.35 TWh, illustrating the enormous task lying ahead.
Although some multinationals such as BMW, Volvo, Google and Samsung have supported a moratorium on deep sea mining, the Guardian also states that many observes think that deep sea mining will go ahead at some point. The question now is: when?