The UK Government has announced its backing of a moratorium on deep sea mining as part of a measure to protect the world’s ocean and improve the conservation of marine biodiversity.
After a huge amount of petitioning from various organisations and with COP28 only a month away, the government has voiced its support for a ban on the granting of exploitation licences for deep sea mining projects by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).
The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Minister of State (Development and Africa) said:
“The UK is an international advocate for the highest possible environmental standards and we will keep pushing for strong and enforceable regulations, standards and guidelines for deep-sea mining. Until we fully understand the impact of deep-sea mining on our marine ecosystems, it is right that we seek to protect them.”
Deep sea mining involves the extraction of minerals such as precious metals, copper and cobalt which are used in battery production – such as the construction of electric vehicle (EVs) batteries.
This means the UK will not sponsor or support the issuing of any such licences until sufficient scientific evidence is available to assess the potential impact of deep sea mining activities on marine ecosystems and strong, enforceable environmental regulations, standards and guidelines have been developed and adopted by the ISA.
Clare Brook, CEO of Blue Marine Foundation, said:
“Deep-sea mining threatens some of the rarest and most vulnerable ecosystems on Earth. Blue Marine is therefore delighted to see the UK supporting a moratorium on deep-sea mining, along with other leading economies such as Germany, France and Sweden.
There are cheaper, cleaner and more secure ways of producing minerals as the world transitions to net zero without causing the catastrophic and permanent destruction of fragile ocean life.”