The world’s oceans are dealing with a “new industrial boundary” from a fledgling deep-sea mining trade as corporations line up to extract metals and minerals from some of the essential ecosystems on the planet, a report has discovered.
The study by Greenpeace discovered that although no mining had started on the ocean flooring, 29 exploration licenses had been issued covering an area five times greater than the UK. Environmentalists stated the proposed drilling would threaten not only crucial ecosystems but the world fight towards climate breakdown.
Louisa Casson, an ocean campaigner at Greenpeace, mentioned: “The well-being of our oceans is closely linked to our survival. Except we act now to protect them, deep-sea mining might have devastating consequences for marine life and humankind.”
The licenses, issued by a United Nations body, the International Seabed Authority, have been granted to a handful of nations that sponsor private corporations. They cover huge areas of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, totaling 1.3m sq km (500,000 sq miles).
If the mining goes forward, large machines will be lowered on to the seabed to excavate cobalt and other rare metals.
Campaigners stated that, in addition to destroying little understood areas of the seafloor, the operations would deepen the climate emergency by disrupting carbon stores in Ocean floor sediments, lowering the ocean’s ability to store it.
A government spokesperson stated: “The UK continues to press for the highest international environmental requirements, including on deep-sea mineral extraction. We have sponsored two exploration licenses, which permits marine scientific analysis to understand the effects of deep-sea mining fully, and we will not issue a single exploitation license without a full assessment of the environmental impact.”