Numerous European countries and businesses currently hold permits to search for resources on the global seabed, though exploitation has not yet started.

The Science Advisory Council of the European Academies has declared its support for a ban on deep-sea mining. The council expresses its doubt that deep-sea mining is required to supply vital minerals for renewable technologies in a new report.

Additionally, Science Advisory Council of the European Academies highlights the fact that deep-sea mining would harm marine ecosystems irreparably and that the mining regulator lacks a scientific definition of what constitutes serious harm.

Numerous European countries and businesses currently hold permits to search for resources on the global seabed, though exploitation has not yet started.

National science European Academies are the most recent group to declare support for a ban on deep-sea mining, an activity that is being debated but is proposed to extract metals like copper, zinc, and manganese from the seabed for economic gain.

The European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) disputes the commonly held belief that seabed minerals are required to make the switch to renewable energy technologies in a report published on June 8. It claims that the necessary metals can be obtained from other sources.

The group, which is made up of 28 national science academies from EU member states, as well as those from Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, questions the International Seabed Authority’s (ISA) capacity to comprehensively and accurately evaluate the environmental effects of mining in international waters.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an organisation known as the International Seabed Authority (ISA) was created to control deep-sea mining in international waters while safeguarding it from “serious harm” (UNCLOS).

Although exploitation has not yet started, numerous European countries and businesses currently hold ISA-issued licences to search for resources on the global seabed. Norway also intends to mine the ocean floor in its exclusive economic zone and the nearby continental shelf.

Next month, the ISA will meet to discuss whether deep-sea mining should be ban or permitted and what regulations should apply to it.

Nauru used the “two-year rule” to compel the ISA to approve mining regulations two years ago. The Metals Company, based in Canada, which is a subsidiary of Nauru Ocean Resources Incorporated (NORI), is sponsored by Nauru (TMC).

After applying for an exploitation licence, TMC hopes to start mining minerals from the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the Pacific as early as 2024. The assertion that deep-sea mining is essential for the transition to green energy is “misleading,” according to Michael Norton, director of the environment at EASAC.

According to a 2020 study by the European Commission and an ISA report, deep-sea mining would not be able to supply many of the essential materials required for the green transition and other high-tech industries. Deep-sea mining would meet 50% of the current annual demand for manganese and cobalt in the case of maximum production, but only 20% of the demand for nickel and 2% of the demand for copper.

In a press conference, Norton claimed that there was also “huge” untapped potential for obtaining metals through recycling procedures.

The [European] Commission is taking some very significant first steps towards recycling batteries, according to Norton. And we consider that to be the first step towards a much more effective recycling policy within Europe, implicitly suggesting that to other nations as well in order to decrease the demand for virgin materials.

The report also states that “it is not yet established what level of environmental harm would be regarded as serious or significant enough to justify refusal of a contract,” which casts doubt on the ISA’s procedures for making decisions regarding the issuance of mining licences.

The discussion of serious harm has only recently begun and is far from being quantitative, according to Norton. “The ISA judges by definition that it is not serious if it grants a contract.”

Lise vres, a professor at Bergen University in Norway and a member of the EASAC, stated in a statement that despite the fact that there are many knowledge gaps regarding the effects of deep-sea mining, vast swaths of the seabed will be harmed and the biota killed.

The large amounts of sediment released pose a risk of significant side effects as well, vres said.”The seabeds took thousands of years to form, and the damage will take an equal amount of time to heal.”

90% of the 5,142 species in the CCZ that have not yet received a scientific description were found in regions designated for deep-sea mining, according to a recent paper published in Current Biology.

The quantity of life in the deep ocean is still up for debate, though. TMC quotes a PNAS study that claims “terrestrial biomass is about two orders of magnitude higher than marine biomass” on its website. According to the company, the CCZ is “one of the least populated areas on the planet,” with much less life there than on land.

TMC stated on its website when accessed on June 9: “While we cannot guarantee that no species will go extinct in the deep sea, we know we can do much better than the status quo when it comes to metal production.” “Species extinction and biodiversity loss have been fueled for centuries by land mining.”

Due to its manageable environmental impact and violations of human rights, deep-sea mining is frequently referred to as the “lesser of two evils,” whereas terrestrial mining is within our control and can be stopped with governance and determination.

The BBNJ agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity are both violated by the ISA’s mission, according to the EASAC. Deep Sea Conservation Coalition political and policy adviser Matt Gianni is optimistic that the EASAC statement will have an impact on how the deep-sea mining issue is handled.

It supports the message we’ve been spreading that you don’t need to engage in deep-sea mining to obtain the metals required for use in and to transition to renewable energy economies, according to Gianni. “It’s a false story,”