Embargoed 6am | Thursday 1 July 2013

Deep sea mining targeted by activists at London conference

Today inside London’s Cumberland Hotel a ‘deep sea mining summit’ is taking place, involving representatives from the mining industry, financiers and the British government. The industry is keen to get support – but the communities that will be most affected are worried about the potentially catastrophic effects.

The London Mining Network and the Deep Sea Mining campaign are asking the industry and potential supporters to think again as widespread opposition to the industry continues to grow.[1] [2] [3]

Richard Solly of the London Mining Network said, “We outside the summit highlighting to participants the risks of investing in this ‘frontier’ industry – not only is there strong opposition from civil society where ever its been proposed but its viability is highly questionable once the economic, environmental and social costs are weighed up.”

A precautionary approach on environmental as well as economic grounds would demand a moratorium on this industry until the risks are assessed and analysed. We are still waiting to see a comprehensive risk analysis of deep sea mining”

Companies and governments from around the world have been rushing to explore and exploit minerals found in and on the seabed, such as gold, copper, manganese, cobalt and rare earths. Over 1.5 million square km of the Pacific Ocean is currently under exploration licence to to private and national companies within both territorial and international waters.[4] There are currently 17 exploration contracts for the seabed that lies beyond national jurisdiction in the deep seas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. There is also significant exploration interest within national waters, particularly in the Pacific Ocean

Natalie Lowrey of the Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “As a new form of mining there are many uncertainties about deep sea mining due to the lack of practical experience of the technologies and to the lack of knowledge about the unique properties of the ecosystems at the sites being mined.”

Serious concerns have also been raised about the potential for heavy metals entering marine food chains with serious consequences for the health of coastal communities.”[5]

$21 billion of silver and gold locked away in e-products each year and electronic waste contains precious metal “deposits” 40 to 50 times richer than ores mine.[6]Australian scientists have found that 1 tonne of old mobile phones contain about 100 kilograms of copper, three kilos of silver and 200 grams of gold.[7]

According to Ms Lowrey, “Australian researchers have demonstrated that “urban mining” of e-waste will become a reality over the next decade – a similar time frame to the operationalisation of deep sea mining.”


Urban mining will be more lucrative than deep sea mining and will deal with an otherwise intractable waste problem in a much more responsible manner.”

The expense and risks of deep sea mining cannot be justified while there is a profitable, socially and environmentally beneficial alternative to satisfy society’s needs for the same metals.”
Download Deep Sea Mining ‘summit’ leaflet
For more info:

Richard Solly, London Mining Network (outside London DSM Summit),07903 851695[email protected]

Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea mining campaign (Australia), +61 421 226 200,[email protected]




[1] A petiton signed by over 24,000 people to ‘Stop Experimental Seabed Mining’ was delivered to the PNG government in November 2012: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPSTI0U18Xw

[2] The Pacific Conference of Churches that represents over 6 million people across the Pacific calls for a halt to deep sea mining. The call has been joined by the Vanuatu Minister for Resources and Lands, Ralph Regenvanu. http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/fiji/1547/pacific-conference-of-churches-congratulates-vanua/

[3] Greenpeace International’s recent report Deep Seabed Mining An urgent wake-up call to protect our oceans highlights the threats of deep sea mining to our oceans.http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Oceans-Reports/deep-seabed-mining/

[4] Britain uses the world’s largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to join the rush to plunder the deep seas in the Pacific, various news articles posted on Deep Sea Mining campaign website, March 15 2013, http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/britain-uses-the-worlds-largest-defense-contractor-to-join-the-rush-to-plunder-the-deep-seas-in-the-pacific/

[5] The Deep Sea mining campaign have produced two reviews by independent scientists highlighting the flaws in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project. Out of Our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in papua New Guinea,produced in November 2011, details serious environmental and social impacts expected as a result of unprecedented mining of the ocean floor in PNG. It highlights the deep flaws in Nautilus Minerals EIS like the insufficient testing by the company in the toxicity of its process on vent species, and has not sufficiently considered toxic effects on organisms in the marine food chain.

The second report produced in November 2012, Physical Oceanographic Assessment of the Nautilus Environmental Impact Statement for the Solwara 1 Project – An Independent Review, authored by oceanographic expert, Dr. John Luick, reviews the oceanographic elements of theNautilus Solwara 1 EIS. Its focus is on currents and upwelling that may bring pollutants into contact with local populations and marine species. At only 30km away New Ireland is especially at risk, with the possibility of upwelling and currents carrying mine-derived metals towards its coastline. The report finds that the EIS seriously downplays the risks facing local communities and the marine environment. Both reports can be viewed and downloaded here: http://deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/report/

[6] United Nations University Press Release: ‘E-waste: Annual Gold, Silver “Deposits” in New High-Tech Goods Worth $21 Billion+; Less Than 15% Recovered’, July 9 2012,http://unu.edu/news/releases/step-news-release-6-july-2012-e-waste-precious-metals-recovery.html
[7] ‘Urban mining study to help develop an e-waste recycling industry’, ABC News, The World Today, June 13 2013 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-13/urban-mining-study-to-help-develop-an-e-waste/4751822?section=sa


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