Deep Sea Mining

Deep Sea Mining

Deep See Mining

“We support a moratorium on deep sea mining, until such time as it could be done without irreparable damage to the ocean flora and fauna.”



Deep Sea Mining Moratorium

Deep Sea Mining is the removal of minerals by strip mining the deep seabed’s abyssal plains for polymetallic nodules, including cobalt, iron, manganese, and sulfides. Large seabed crawlers scrape the seabed surface, vacuuming polymetallic nodules with all the sea life and mud which clings to them, carrying it to a vessel at the surface through a system of risers and pumps. Here the nodules or metals are washed, and the resultant slush of mud and marine flora and fauna waste are pumped back into the sea, either down to the seabed or down a 1,000 or more meters. Plumes are formed both in the excavation and in the returned waste.

The initial area to be mined as early as 2024 is the Clarion-Clipperton zone (CCZ) in the Southeastern Pacific between Mexico and Hawaii, a region about the size of Europe or Mongolia. As of May 2022, 31 licenses had been granted to countries or companies to begin exploration of their designated area. A separate license must be granted to begin mining.

In May 2023, The SSAFE Advocacy Team collected 397 signatures and petitioned two entities that have the potential to make the biggest impact:

  1. We called for a moratorium on deep sea mining by the UN International Seabed Authority.
  2. We asked for a pledge from Elon Musk, CEO of TESLA, to refrain from using minerals mined from the deep sea.