Several Countries Call for the Suspension of Deep-Sea Mining
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Several Countries Call for the Suspension of Deep-Sea Mining

Photo by:   Hiroko Yoshii
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Paloma Duran By Paloma Duran | Journalist and Industry Analyst - Wed, 07/06/2022 - 06:25

Concerned about the environmental damage that deep-sea mining could cause to marine biodiversity around the world, countries such as France, Fiji and Chile have called for these activities to be suspended. Members of the government’s opposition have said that while Latin America has generally pushed for ocean conservation, Mexico has moved in the opposite direction.

At the second UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which took place from June 27 to July 1, 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron called for deep-sea mining exploration to be prohibited if it is not supported with a stringent legal framework. He urged other countries to invest in understanding and protecting marine life instead. However, France was criticized for holding a public exploration contract in the North Pacific seabed.

Despite the criticism, several countries, including the Pacific islands of Palau, Fiji and Chile, accepted the motion and called for a global ban on deep-sea mining activities. However, not all countries support this position. For instance, China is expected to remain the leader in deep-sea mining exploration efforts, while the nation of Nauru announced that it will start exploring the ocean in June 2023. In addition, G7 countries said that they will allow deep-sea mining if it does not seriously damage the environment.

Gabriel Qudri, Deputy, National Action Party (PAN), said that while Latin American countries like Colombia and Panama announced new environmental protection initiatives, Mexico has moved in the opposite direction. In addition, the country played a weak role in the discussions, since it was represented by the foreign ministry and not by environmental ministry SEMARNAT, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and the Ministry of the Navy, who do have the mandate to deal with these issues.

“In Lisbon, the Mexican government sided with the predatory powers of the oceans like China, Japan and Norway, and against the Marine Protected Areas. This is a situation that generates international concern and ridicules the diplomacy and environment of our country,” Quadri said.

While Mexico does not carry out deep-sea mining yet, the country has significant opportunity to do so. It has oceans on two sides and is located right next to the most prolific region for marine mining, the Clipperton Fracture Zone. Mexico’s mineral reserves have been estimated to contain 21 billion tons of polymetallic nodules, which contain about 6 billion tons of manganese, 226 million tons of copper, 94 tons of cobalt and 270 million tons of nickel.

Photo by:   Hiroko Yoshii

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