Spain will ask to delay underwater mining with the ISA Council

In 2023, Spain already has the right to vote in the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA). From his position, he will ask for a “preventive pause” in controversial underwater mining.

Already in 2023, Spain is a voting member of the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which regulates underwater mining against the clock, an activity much criticized by environmentalists and which would exploit one rare undisturbed areas of the planet.

According to sources from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco), Spain will take advantage of its position on the ISA Council to defend “strict compliance” with the precautionary principle and demand a “preventive breakin seabed mining.

The objective of the moratorium is to prevent any extraction”until there is sufficient scientific knowledge and effective environmental safeguards to prevent irreversible damage to marine biodiversity, ecosystems or ocean health“, they argue from the Miteco.


An “Oceans Constitution” to regulate underwater mining

In 1994, the parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea introduced in Chapter 11 such a provision “Constitution of the oceanswhich allows any Member State to submit a request for the adoption of regulations relating to the exploitation of the seabed within two years.

Otherwise, submitted project applications will be considered and provisionally approved despite the absence of regulations.recalls OceanCare specialist Carlos Bravo.

Thus, in 2021, Nauru, a Pacific island state, issued an ultimatum to the ISA: if in two years this body does not draw up regulations for underwater mining, the country will be able to start operations with a provisional permit, despite opposition from other ISA members, such as France, Spain, Chile and other Pacific islands, such as Palau.

At this point, Bravo shows no hope that the ISA regulations can be ready by the end of the mandate -in July-, so now efforts are focused on research “a legal way to counter or override this two-year rule”.

Some countries, including Spain, have joined coalitions to demand moratoriums on deep-sea mining, and others are even calling for its ban, as French President Emmanuel Macron defended in Egypt, who took advantage of of his speech at the climate summit last November to express their outright rejection of the activity.

The damage caused by underwater mining

underwater mining, mining, oceans, reefs, coral, seas, oil, metals, gold

The alert is, above all, in the damage that mining can cause to the ecosystems of the deep seabed, on which there is little information but where the International Union for the Conservation of Nature calculates that there is biodiversity that can be of “vital importance”. ” for Humanity.

There are also concerns that ships could dump toxic waste and sediment into the sea from the crushing and pumping of rocks on the surface, which could harm not only the species that live in the depths of the ocean, but also to large fish such as tuna, and jeopardize the health of the population. the entire food chain.

On the other hand, some environmentalists and climate experts fear that carbon trapped on the seabed will be released, as land shifts could re-emit CO2 and contribute to worsening an already difficult global climate situation.

The seabed is worth trillions of dollars.

It is estimated that the seabed contains metals worth trillions of dollars, since large quantities of nickel, cobalt, manganese or copper can be extracted from the polymetallic nodules found in certain strategic areas, critical materials whose demand in recent years has grown exponentially.

Deep-sea mining advocates argue that many of these materials are critical to the technological development partly needed to electrify transportation and decarbonize the economy, and highlight the socio-environmental consequences of land-based mining that , otherwise, would be to support the energy transition.

From Oceana, however, they recall that batteries for electric cars have already been made that do not require nickel or cobalt, and they argue that at the rate at which research is progressing, at a time when underwater mining becomes a reality, there will already be more efficient -longer duration- or recyclable batteries.


Leave a Comment