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21 Dez 2023


Norway: Activists, scientists, fishermen and investors urge Norway to reconsider decision to allow deep-sea mining

"Norway doubles down on deep-sea mining bet despite green fears"

Critics worry plans to exploit the precious resources will cause havoc on marine environment.

The Norwegian government wants to fire the starting gun on the exploitation of rare metals and minerals at the bottom of the ocean. But critics fear irreversible environmental damage.

Earlier this year, the government suggested opening more than 280,000 square kilometers of the country's territorial waters to deep-sea mining. The plan has the broad backing of the four major parties, including the opposition, and is expected to pass in a final vote on January 9.

Green activists, scientists, fishermen and investors, as well as neighbors like the EU, are calling on Oslo to reconsider, pointing to a lack of scientific data about the effects of deep-sea mining on the marine environment — and to growing momentum for a global moratorium on the practice until more research is done.

The debate comes as global demand for critical raw materials like nickel, cobalt and copper is exploding thanks to the key role they play in building green technologies like electric car batteries and wind turbines. [...]

In the race to secure more critical raw materials, countries like Norway are also increasingly considering deep-sea mining as an alternative to land mining operations, which have run into stiff opposition from local communities. If its proposal is approved in January, Norway would become the first Western country to allow exploration missions to determine whether mining can be done profitably and sustainably, paving the way for future exploitation.

The government's push is "an irresponsible move," said Kaja Lønne Fjærtoft, a member of WWF Norway who leads the NGO’s global campaign against deep-sea mining. She pointed out that parts of the area considered for deep-sea mining overlap with protected vulnerable ecosystems. [...]

In the meantime, companies are starting to line up. Walter Sognnes, CEO of Norwegian start-up Loke, is developing new technologies to harvest minerals and metals from the seabed. He's hopeful the Norwegian plan will go ahead and grant the industry the "social license to operate" that will help it deflect criticism from green activists.

“We are not saying it will not have any impact but … it can be a better alternative than a nickel mine in the rainforest in Indonesia,” Sognnes said, adding that exploitation isn't likely to happen on a commercial scale before 2030 at the earliest. [...]