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Environmentalists received a blow this week as Norway’s parliament agreed to allow Arctic seabed exploration to mine for critical minerals as it attempted to shift away from its reliance on oil and gas.
The decision could make Norway the first country in the world to commercialize deep-sea mining to harvest critical minerals as the electrification-of-everything push gets underway.
Norway did not specify when exploration of the Arctic seabed would commence, but it did say that an application process would be used to assign exclusive exploration and extraction rights of specific areas to companies.
Norway’s Energy Minister Terje Aasland told parliament,” We’re now going to see if this can be done in a sustainable manner, and that is the step we have taken now.”
The mineral exploration and extraction award process will be fashioned after the country’s oil and gas exploration process—but sources told Reuters that the method for taxing critical minerals exploration and extraction have yet to be determined and will come later.
The vote was mainly in line with an unofficial deal reached between the government and opposition parties in December—the latter of which argued that this deep-sea mining would hamper biodiversity. But Tuesday’s deal does set stricter environmental standards than what was originally agreed upon.
Last year around this time, Norway conducted a survey that determined that a “substantial” amount of metals and minerals was present, including a staggering 38 million tonnes of copper. According to the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic bedrock hosts over 43 million tons of economically viable deposits of rare earth minerals. Finland, Sweden, and Norway are among the top eight countries favorable for critical minerals and battery supply chain development as per Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
De-risking has become the new goal of many governments, who for now, are reliant on China for critical minerals.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.