Sunday, July 25, 2021

"Why Nauru Is Pushing the World Toward Deep-Sea Mining"

From Hakai Magazine, July 14:

A small South Pacific nation gave the International Seabed Authority a two-year deadline to finalize the rules for mining the deep sea, but the jury is still out on when, exactly, deep-sea mining will begin.

Nauruans have suffered a legacy of destructive extraction. Like many other small South Pacific nations, Nauru was devastated by colonial powers. Over time, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan stripped the country of white gold, or phosphates, leaving large swaths of the land uninhabitable moonscapes of white pinnacles. The roughly 10,000 people who live on the island crowd along the coastline, the only fertile land left, and are threatened by erosion and climate change. For over a millennia, nesting seabirds sought refuge on Nauru and ensured the richness of phosphate, but now, they don’t come as often.

The geographically isolated country is roughly a third the size of Manhattan, New York. But Nauru has recently taken up an outsized spot on the world stage. It used an obscure clause in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to give the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the independent body tasked with regulating the ocean floor in international waters, a two-year deadline to finalize the exploitation regulations of the Mining Code—the set of rules that will determine where, when, and how the deep sea can be mined.

The ISA must now work to either finalize the exploitation regulations, or provisionally approve mining licenses under the draft regulations. Nauru kick-started the race on behalf of Nauru Ocean Resources Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of DeepGreen, a deep-sea mining company based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

That Nauru has pulled this trigger is not much of a surprise, says Pradeep Arjan Singh, a legal scholar at the University of Bremen in Germany. But it is the timing that has onlookers wondering, Why now?

The ISA was expected, though not required, to finalize the exploitation regulations in 2020, but the ongoing pandemic significantly slowed the process. For Nauru, says Singh, “there must have been some frustrations on their part, because not much has happened since the last in-person meeting in February.”

DeepGreen has an incentive to get things moving, too. The company plans to merge with the Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corporation to form a new entity called the Metals Company, and go public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the third quarter of 2021....


 We have quite a few posts on DeepGreen and/or seabed mining, this one has a few of the links:

Wannabe Seabed Miner DeepGreen Has Entered Into An Agreement To Come Public Via SPAC (SOAC)
I know the FT's natural resources editor is not very impressed with either the economics of seabed mining or the PR techniques employed when some corporates said nein to the idea of said mining:....

"The Deep Sea Is Filled with Treasure, but It Comes at a Price"

"A billion batteries’ worth of rare metals lie on the bottom of the sea"
And we don't know what happens when we roil up the seabed.
E to the S to the G, it's complicated.... 

not so many on Nauru:

...Radio New Zealand had a story the day before MotorTrend, June 15:

Seabed mining debate stirs again in the Pacific

A group of researchers says damages from seabed mining would be significantly less than land-based mining.
It's a key finding in a report touted by the government of Nauru and Canadian company DeepGreen Metals.
DeepGreen has a license to explore the seabed of international waters in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, and has three exploration contracts which are sponsored by Nauru, Kiribati and Tonga.
Johnny Blades reports.
Proponents of seabed mining have the Pacific firmly in their sights, yet the industry has yet to find its feet.
Holding it back is the great range of unknowns about the potential environmental impacts of mining for metals contained in nodules on the seafloor....

Earlier today: "Scientists aim to build a detailed seafloor map by 2030 to reveal the secrets of the deep"