Governments like France and Germany have expressed opposition to deep-sea mining; however, companies involved argue that it provides an opportunity to extract commodities like cobalt and nickel, crucial for electric-vehicle batteries and the energy transition. They also claim that deep-sea mining avoids human rights issues and land-based destruction. Environmental groups, on the other hand, argue that it would harm untouched ecosystems while land-based mining activities continue.
The ISA recently concluded a meeting in Jamaica to formalize a mining code that would outline the dos and don'ts of seafloor mining. This code is expected to establish rules and regulations regarding royalties, taxation, and the overall mining process. However, no agreement was reached during the July meeting, and further discussions will take place in October.
TMC has been actively advocating for deep-sea mining and, in July 2021, triggered the 'two-year rule' through its state sponsor, the Republic of Nauru. This rule compels the ISA to create a mining code within two years. If no code is established by the deadline, prospective miners could potentially submit an application based on any agreed-upon mining code up until that point. Despite the passing of the deadline, no miner has yet submitted an application.
Deep-sea mining is edging closer to becoming a reality as TMC pushes forward, but the debate surrounding its potential environmental impacts and economic benefits remains ongoing.
The Canadian Miner's Cash Requirements for Mining Application
NORI, the Chief Executive of TMC, expressed satisfaction with the progress made during the ISA meetings in Kingston last month. However, he acknowledged that more time is needed for the parties involved to fulfill their legal obligation of delivering the mining code. After carefully considering the discussions during the ISA meetings over the past three weeks, NORI stated that TMC intends to submit their application following the July 2024 ISA session. This timeframe will allow them to strengthen their environmental dataset and provide sufficient time for three additional council sessions and intersessional work.
Notably, TMC has faced challenges in recent times. It has been delisted from Nasdaq twice in the past year due to its share price falling below $1 for over 30 consecutive trading days.
Greenpeace campaigner Louisa Casson expressed opposition to TMC's plans for deep-sea mining. Casson highlighted that the announcement by The Metals Company contradicts international sentiments against this form of mining. She emphasized that governments dedicated extensive time to debating the future of the oceans and concluded that deep-sea mining should not be approved. Casson further added that attempting to mine the oceans is becoming politically toxic, especially given the absence of established rules in this domain. As such, she believes that TMC's bullish approach to force rushed decisions from governments will eventually backfire.