Canada has joined nearly 20 countries in calling for a pause or moratorium on deep-sea mining, a controversial practice of extracting battery metals from the seafloor. As delegates of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) convene to establish regulations around deep-sea mining, concerns over its environmental impact are being raised. While proponents argue it offers a less destructive source of critical materials for the energy transition, Canada emphasizes the need for rigorous regulatory structures and protection of the marine environment.
This article explores the implications of deep-sea mining and its potential impact on job creation and employment opportunities.
Delegates of the ISA are gathering in Kingston, Jamaica, to discuss and establish regulations for deep-sea mining over the next two weeks. Canada, along with Ireland and Switzerland, has recently added its voice to calls for a moratorium on this practice, echoing concerns raised by environmental groups. As negotiations progress, there is an expectation that rules on inspection and enforcement will be agreed upon during the current ISA session. However, a comprehensive mining code, addressing issues such as royalties, environmental standards, benefits sharing, and job creation, is expected to be established in the October ISA meeting.
Deep-sea mining has gained attention as a means of extracting battery metals like manganese and nickel from the seafloor. Proponents argue that it can provide an alternative source of metals, reducing the need for destructive terrestrial mining practices and protecting habitats such as rainforests and indigenous settlements. While environmental concerns persist, deep-sea mining has the potential to create job opportunities in specialized fields such as marine engineering, robotics, geology, and environmental monitoring.
The Metals Co., a prospective deep-sea mining company, and Nauru have triggered the two-year rule within the ISA, setting a deadline for creating a mining code. Although this period has expired, allowing companies to submit applications for deep-sea mining, TMC and Nauru have expressed a preference to wait until comprehensive regulations are in place. The emerging deep-sea mining industry holds the potential to generate employment opportunities, particularly in scientific research, technological innovation, offshore operations, and environmental management.
As nations and regulatory bodies engage in discussions on deep-sea mining, concerns over its environmental impact and the need for robust regulatory frameworks take center stage. Canada’s call for stringent environmental protections aligns with the focus on science-based decision-making and sustainable management of ocean resources. Simultaneously, the nascent deep-sea mining industry holds promise for job creation and economic development, particularly in specialized fields related to underwater mining operations and environmental stewardship. Balancing the environmental, economic, and societal aspects of deep-sea mining will be crucial in shaping the future of this industry while ensuring sustainable employment opportunities.