EU encouraged to promote moratorium on deep-sea mining
The European Union should promote a moratorium on deep seabed mining until its effects on the environment are better understood and can be managed, the European Parliament has advised, adding to calls for a pause on the nascent industry.
Electrification is driving the shift away from fossil fuels
A global shift from fossil fuels to electrify the global economy is stoking demand for minerals used to make batteries. Some of these are found on the seabed, whose ecosystems have yet to be fully explored.
Deep-sea mining would extract cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese from potato-sized nodules which pepper the sea floor at depths of 4-6 kilometres.
These rocks are particularly abundant in a region of the North Pacific Ocean spanning millions of kilometres between Hawaii and Mexico.
Environmentalists and a group of leading global companies have backed a moratorium, saying too little is known about the impact of disturbing the ocean floor, while early trials have been hit by technical glitches, reports Reuters.
Initiated by BMW Group and WWF, and signed by Samsung SDI, Google and Volvo Group, the companies behind the moratorium have highlighted the potential for significant risks to economies and to ocean health that could arise from opening up the deep seabed to the extraction of minerals.
International Seabed Authority is drawing up regulations for proposed deep-sea mining activities
Deep-sea mining regulations have not been finalised by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a U.N. body, which last month postponed meetings set for July. The ISA’s regulations could trigger a rush to extract battery metalsneeded to power the electric vehicle revolution.
The European Parliament position was outlined in a report approved Wednesday calling for biodiversity targets to be fixed in law.
Lawmakers urged the European Commission to back a moratorium until the effects on the marine environment, biodiversity and human activities at sea have been sufficiently studied and can be managed to ensure no marine biodiversity loss nor degradation of marine ecosystems.
The non-binding resolution is timely as the European Commission and the EU member states are currently debating whether to take a common EU position at the ISA, civil society group Deep Sea Conservation Coalition said.
"We are now calling on them to adopt the position taken by the European Parliament," Matthew Gianni with the group said.
Deep-Sea Mining: sustainability saviour or environmental menace?
Polymetallic nodules found on the seafloor contain the battery metals needed for the renewable energy transition. But do the environmental concerns outweigh the sustainability benefits? Mining magazine investigates in next month’s issue…
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.