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UN Fails To Reach Agreement On Deep Sea Mining Regulation

Week-long discussions at the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN-backed regulator, have failed to reach a consensus on immediate permission for deep sea mining or draft regulations on seabed mineral exploitation.

Some countries have been exploring the potential of seabed mining for the minerals that are key to the energy transition.

However, the ISA authority said that it would “continue the work on the exploitation regulations with a view to adopting them during the 30th session in 2025.”

The Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) also discussed the so-called “two-year rule” which expired on July 9, 2023, and says that it should “consider and provisionally approve” deep sea mining applications two years after they are submitted, regardless of whether it has finalized the exploitation regulations.

“However, no application for a plan of work has been received to date,” the Council of the ISA said.

More meetings will be held in the coming months and years for the council to reach an agreement on common regulations for the exploitation of seabed resources, it added.

Environmentalists are calling for a total shutdown of any possibility of deep sea mining.

“The global ocean doesn’t belong to anyone. We can’t sell it to the highest bidder,” Greenpeace said last week.

Last month, Norway’s government submitted to Parliament plans to open a large area to deep sea mining as it seeks to access and extract critical minerals from the seabed.

“We need minerals to succeed in the green transition. Currently, the resources are controlled by a few countries, which makes us vulnerable,” Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Aasland said.

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Early this year, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate issued a resource assessment, in which it said that there were “substantial resources on the Norwegian shelf.”

Copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, rare earth minerals, and other critical minerals could be found on the Norwegian seabed, according to the report, which noted that “The NPD’s assessment is that the resources in place are significant. For several of the metals, the mineral resources compare to many years of global consumption.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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