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Government of Norway

Climate warning

Norway further opens the gate to deep-sea mining

By: Sebastian Maks
The Norwegians have decided to start deep-sea mining in the Arctic Ocean. The country is the first in the world to do this. From now on, the seabed near the Spitsbergen archipelago will be searched for precious metals that are in demand for the energy transition. Environmental organizations denounce the Norwegian decision.
Ocean floors are rich in precious metals such as cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese. The demand for these metals is high, as they are needed for the production of batteries in electric cars, wind turbines and solar panels. The World Bank estimates that demand for precious metals will grow by 500 percent by 2050. Companies cannot wait to start deep-sea mining.

As big as Italy
It had been known for some time that Norway had deep-sea mines. Last year, the country announced that it wanted to explore an area in the Arctic Ocean, near the Spitsbergen archipelago, for precious metals. The area is enormous: 280,000 square kilometers, almost the size of Italy. There are said to be about 38 million tons of copper in the soil. The metals can be found, among other things, in stones the size of a potato, the so-called polymetallic or manganese nodules. These nodules can be sucked up from the ocean floor using special vehicles.

Controversial decision
The Norwegian parliament has now approved the exploration. A first, and not one that everyone is happy with. Environmental organizations have long opposed deep-sea mining. When Norway's plans were announced last year, a coalition of more than 700 marine experts and policymakers from 44 different countries called for the oceans to be left alone. This is because a significant part of life on earth has its home there, including on the tubers themselves. Deep-sea mining and the removal of nodules can therefore have disastrous consequences for marine life and therefore for biodiversity on earth. According to the BBC, Norway has indicated that it will not start mining until environmental studies have been carried out.

The waters near Spitsbergen fall under the authority of Norway, and therefore the country is free to start deep-sea mining. This is different in the case of international waters. Last year, negotiations on international deep-sea mining broke down during the International Seabed Authority (ISA) conference. There was, among other things, a dispute about how the proceeds from the extracted metals can be fairly distributed. That didn't happen for the first time; a year earlier the negotiations also failed. It is still uncertain whether that will happen this year.

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  • johnte ndeto

    13 w

    This poses a great threat to aquatic life

    3
    • George Kariuki

      13 w

      We can and must find sustainable ways to source these minerals without destroying delicate ecosystems and risking unknown consequences.

      3
      • Abraham Jok Atem

        14 w

        This is a serious insult to our ecosystem

        4
        • winnie nguru

          14 w

          This is very disappointing. Where are we headed ?

          2
          • CHRIS NGATIA

            14 w

            These people are driven by greed .. They really don't care about the aquatic life

            5
            • Jane Wangui

              13 w

              @chris_ngatia Every living thing no matter its habitat has a role to play in the ecosystem.

              2
            • Elizabeth Gathigia

              14 w

              It's a terrible decision that will cause a huge damage to the ocean and life in it, Norway government should reconsider this decision,

              3
              • CHRIS NGATIA

                14 w

                @elizbeth_gathigia it's as if they don't care about the aquatic life

                2
              • Princess

                14 w

                This can lead to irreversible damage to ocean ecosystems and marine life.

                13
                • walter lungayi

                  14 w

                  @princess_nel_268 I strongly agree with you. They should stop!!!

                  2
                • Munene Mugambi

                  14 w

                  Norway are again making a grave(yes grave) mistake in continued deep sea mining. They're funding our marine life's extinction

                  5
                  • Jane Wangui

                    13 w

                    @munene_mugambi I think they are just thinking of short term profits and not long term effects.

                    2
                  • Joseph Githinji

                    14 w

                    The Norwegian legislature must be aware of the implications of such decisions and stop them with immediate effect. Better laws and regulations that favour the environment should be put in place.

                    14
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