Polymetallic Nodules on Ocean Bed – Image from https://only.one
I am concerned that beginning larger scale deep sea mining with current knowledge of the deep ocean and with current extractive technologies will be damaging to the health of the oceans and planet.
I recently looked at the types of extraction proposed, fearing that it might involve trawling or suction techniques, and it does appear to be based on such methods.
My own background is in AI and robotics, and I had hoped that if anything was to be approved in the near future that rather than using large scale seabed “hoover” polymetallic nodule gathering machines damaging the deep ocean bed and its occupants, the process might involve the development of potentially gentle approaches which could use AI, vision and robotic picker arms. Almost like a scuba diver floating over, leaving items that are associated with wildlife and only picking appropriate useful items without sea bed damage.
Can I ask that the UK adopts a position of asking for a pause on deep sea mining as that would allow for consideration of the impacts, a better understandings of the deep sea and the development of advanced gentle extraction techniques in research areas before any larger scale extraction was permitted.
I hope the UK government will support this approach.
Emeritus Professor Austin Tate
FREng FRSE FBCS FEurAI FAAI
This blog post gathers some resources on this topic.
- International Seabed Authority (ISA) – https://www.isa.org.jm/
- About Deep-Sea Mining – https://savethehighseas.org/deep-sea-mining/
- Environmental Justice Foundation – https://ejfoundation.org/what-we-do/ocean/stop-deep-sea-mining
- Greenpeace UK – Deep Sea Mining – https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/deep-sea-mining/
- British Geological Survey led Independent Expert Review for UK Government – Deep Sea Mining Evidence Review – October 2022 – https://www.bgs.ac.uk/news/deep-sea-mining-evidence-review-published/
Infographic from Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA)
https://www.soalliance.org/campaign-against-deep-seabed-mining#resources [Direct Link]
Current Machines for Polymetallic Nodule Extraction
Greenpeace International Animation of Deep Sea Mining Machines
Relevant News Items
- Norway’s Loke Marine Minerals has purchased deep-sea mining firm UK Seabed Resources (UKSR) from US-based Lockheed Martin. UKSR is the sole holder of the UK’s two licences from the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for deep sea mining exploration in the Clarion-Clipperton Zine (CCZ) in the Pacific Ocean – Mining Technology, 17-Mar-2023.
- UK should press pause on deep-sea mining – UK Labour’s David Lammy says Labour government would join growing list of countries and multinationals opposing rush to mine the seabed – The Guardian 10-Jul-2023
- MPs call for UK pause on deep-sea mining to protect biodiversity – Financial Times 13-Jul-2023
- Deep Sea Conservation Coalition – https://savethehighseas.org/moratorium_2022/
- Say No to Deep Sea Mining – https://only.one/act/mining
- Sustainable Ocean Alliance – Campaign Against Deep-Seabed Mining – https://www.soalliance.org/campaign-against-deep-seabed-mining
- UK representative on the topic – The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP (Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) in July 2023
- UK Government and Parliament – Stop deep-sea mining – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/636545
- Greenpeace UK – Deep Sea Mining – Sign the Petition – https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/challenges/deep-sea-mining/