San Juan, Puerto Rico –
Brazil on Friday called for a precautionary moratorium on deep-sea mining on the high seas for 10 years, days after companies and countries were allowed to start applying for interim licenses.
The call came during a two-week conference held by the International Seabed Authority, a United Nations regulatory body based in Jamaica, which has established a set of rules and regulations to govern deep-sea mining. It was not approved by the July 9 deadline.
The agency has not issued provisional licenses or accepted applications, but the government of Nauru is expected to apply for a license soon through Canada-based Metals.
The small Pacific island government said on Friday it wanted to diversify its “limited economic base” but pledged not to sponsor applications during the UN conference, which ends on July 21.
Nauru said its “good faith decision” does not mean the authorities will withdraw plans to promote deep-sea mining.
“We are no longer in a ‘what if’ scenario, but ‘what if’ now?”
A growing number of countries and companies, including BMW and Volvo, are supporting a moratorium on deep-sea mining, and mining precious metals used in electric vehicle batteries and other environmental technologies from deep water can cause environmental damage. It warns that there is
Elsa Moreira Marcelino de Castro, Brazil’s representative to the International Seabed Authority, said the country supports a precautionary moratorium for at least 10 years.
“Priority must be given to protecting the international seabed until definitive and comprehensive research results are available,” she said.
Scientists have warned that deep-sea mining could cause dust storms and cause light and noise pollution, noting that minerals growing at such depths take millions of years to form. ing. But companies argue that deep-sea mining is cheaper and less impactful than land-based mining, while some countries argue that deep-sea mining enables economic growth and diversification.
On Friday, several council members insisted on further scientific research before the license was awarded.
Vanuatu representative Siddharth Shekhar Yadav said: “Exploitation should not begin until it is assured that there is no loss of biodiversity.”
The United Nations agency has issued more than 30 exploration licenses, with most of the activity concentrated in the Clarion Clipperton fracture zone, which covers 1.7 million square miles (4.5 million square kilometers) between Hawaii and Mexico. Exploration is conducted at depths ranging from 13,000 to 19,000 feet (4,000 to 6,000 meters).
A 36-member council of UN agencies is working on a draft framework to regulate potential deep-sea mining, but it is unclear when it will be completed.
“Exploitation in this region should not take place in the absence of rules, regulations and procedures,” Costa Rica representative Gina Gillen said in a statement representing the positions of more than a dozen countries.
The representative of Australia said on Friday it was clear that the draft regulations would not be ready by the end of the meeting, or the next meeting scheduled for October and November.