Stefan Sädbom, Senior Exploration Geologist and chairman of Lovisagruvan and Orexplore, talks about...
EU-commission published guidelines for deep sea mining
Deep-sea mining is, according to EU-commission, a pioneering activity which interacts with flora and fauna on the seafloor and water column. As ‘unknown’ practice, the environmental effects of deep-sea mining are monitored closely.
The question, therefore, may rise; to what extent are the different techniques available and
under development for deep-sea mining activities impacting the environment? Is it true that some
techniques disturb less?
First of all, says the commission, it is important to note that there are differences in impacts depending on the deposit type as well as the geomorphological setting, physical conditions, the scale of operations, and therefore also depending on the technology used for extraction.
The technology being developed for deepsea mining depends, according to EU-commision, on the above-mentioned characteristics of the setting, deposit and location.
Tailor-made solutions are developed depending on these different mining characteristics. It is
therefore impossible to ‘pick’ or choose a certain technology. Technologies are yet still under
development, as the TRL levels have shown in this report.
Pioneering in this field involve major investments to make, not without financial risk. Given the
attention the deep-sea mining industry receives from stakeholders, none of the companies would
be willing to add risks to their investment by developing environmentally harming techniques.
Before licenses are issued, environmental impact assessments need to be approved, including the
techniques and mitigating actions concerning the environment.
Therefore, it can be expected that the technologies being developed at the moment are
technologies that mitigate environmental impact as much as possible. Acting not environmentally
Study to investigate the state of knowledge of deep sea mining 11 friendly is per se non-economically attractive, as the risk is too high that the projects will be cancelled or licenses will be retracted.
Though, there are certain stages in the deep-sea mining value chain which are expected to impact
the environment more than others. This holds especially for the extraction phase, as interference
takes place with the seafloor habitat. The extraction processes that are expected to have
environmental impacts are the following:
The companies spoken to during the course of this study have all shown their efforts and concerns
regarding the environmental impact of deep-sea mining. The above activities are developed with
great concern, underlines the EU-Commission.