Resources & Climate

The Move To Mine Deep Seabed Minerals

Over the last several years interest in deep sea mineral resources has revived as a result of an increase in demand for metal and in metal prices; a decline in the grade and tonnage of land-based mineral deposits; and advances in seabed mining technology. In April 2014, an agreement was reached between Canadian mining company, Nautilus Minerals, Inc. and Papua New Guinea (PNG) to open the first mine in the deep ocean of the PNG continental shelf. Nautilus hopes to be the first to prove the deep seabed-mining concept and technology. Meanwhile, in Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd Marine Consent Decision, the New Zealand EPA refused to grant a “marine consent” to mine the seabed of the New Zealand continental shelf because it was not satisfied that the “life supporting capacity of the environment would be safeguarded.” Further, a number of Pacific Island states have passed progressive legislative frameworks for a deep seabed mining and are actively seeking partners. As of July 2014, the International Seabed Authority has approved 26 contracts for the exploration of mineral resources in “The Area”, the seabed beyond national jurisdiction.

Given these on-going developments, the time is ripe to consider the adequacy of the legal framework and challenges posed by deep seabed mining.

Watch the event below or here.

Speakers included Don Anton, Professor of International Law, Griffith University Law School; Caitlyn Antrim, Executive Director of the Rule of Law Committee for the Oceans; Peter Oppenheimer, Chief of the International Section of NOAA’s Office of General Counsel; and George Taft, Center for Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia School of Law.

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