Deep sea mining: a concrete threat we need to shut down now

July 9th 2023 is a turning point for the deep sea mining industry but also for everyone opposing this new extractive industry. We need to get ready to reinforce the resistance.


Those who’ve heard about the “two year rule”, raise your hand

Pretty much no one would raise their hand, and for good reason! The “two year rule” is an obscure provision in the Law of the Sea, an ultimatum used by the deep sea mining industry to pressure governments to allow deep sea mining. Once triggered, it allows a contractor to try to start deep sea mining even if no regulation is in place.

Nauru, a small island state that sponsors would-be deep sea miners The Metals Company, triggered this provision two years ago. To this day, governments have no idea what to do if a company applies to start mining. During the last meeting of the International Seabed Authority in March, governments left the door open for the industry to sneak in. Now they need to firmly shut the door to deep sea mining.

What does it mean?

It means the threat of commercial deep sea mining becomes more and more concrete. It means that even after the adoption of an historic Global Ocean Treaty, a greedy industry could rip up the seabed for profits. Right now, there’s very little standing between the natural wonders of the deep ocean and the mining machines. Deep sea mining would endanger fragile marine ecosystems that took millennia to develop, risk disturbing and  releasing carbon stored in deep sea sediment, and threaten the livelihoods and traditions of people from the Pacific and their spiritual connection to the ocean.

The industry falsely claims it is needed for the green transition. But lowering down monster machines thousands of kilometers behind the surface to scrape off the seafloor, leaving a trail of destruction, cannot be a solution to save the planet.

There are far better alternatives. Improving recycling and reducing dependence on cars will help use metals more efficiently. And mining the seabed won’t stop mining on land.

We need to stop deep sea mining

In a few days, the next meeting of the International Seabed Authority will start in Kingston, Jamaica. Yes, this topic is highly political, but it is also about people power and mobilisation. The global ocean doesn’t belong to anyone. We can’t sell it to the highest bidder. Imagine that we could stop a dangerous extractive industry from existing. Imagine if we could stop offshore drilling at the dawn of the oil age. This is where we are now with deep sea mining.

Governments are currently at a crossroads, where they can choose between doing what is right or going down a very dangerous path. As the Norwegian government just decided to pursue deep sea mining in its seabed in the Arctic, a clear signal needs to be sent by world leaders at the ISA: deep sea mining has no future.

Activism works. On June 28th 2023, Switzerland joined the group of 16 countries opposed to deep sea mining. Globally, there are more than 700,000 people standing against deep sea mining. One day after another, mobilisation grows. Together, we need to increase political pressure because we can’t afford the risk of destroying the oceans.

On July 9th, a new era will start for deep sea mining, but global mobilisation is also stronger than ever. This is a once in a generation opportunity. Be part of the story and take action now.

Take action

Labour are positioning themselves as a government in waiting - but they haven’t said if they’ll ban deep sea mining. If they do, it’ll put pressure on the government to do the same, and harm the industry's confidence. Can you email your Labour MP and ask them to call for their party to back a ban on deep sea mining? Don't have a Labour MP? Share this page with someone who does!

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What's next?