Deep Sea Mining

These two articles are from an EU sponsored publication developed by GRID-Arendal for UNEP and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. There was and continues to be some controversy as to the degree it was assisting Pacific Countries respond to deep-sea mining or actively promoting it.

Baker E. & Beaudoin Y. (eds.) (2013) Vol 1A, B, C, 2 Available here

Anticipating Social and Community Impacts of Deep Sea Mining

Authors: Roche, C and Bice, S Intro: Other chapters in this volume demonstrate that the mineral extraction potential of deep sea min- ing could be enormous, that economic opportunities are driving Pacific Island states’ exploration of deep sea mining, and that deep sea mining – if approached from a holistic environmental perspective – might offer Pacific Island states economic means of achieving development goals. But what of the social and community impacts of deep sea mining? How might communities be affected or societies changed when the most socially disruptive aspects of mining shift offshore? How can such impacts be predicted, measured, and monitored? And will communities be able to register complaints successfully, exercise decision-making authority, or grant a social licence to operate to an industry operating not in their backyards, but in their equally prized and culturally important seas?

Current knowledge suggests that deep sea mining will not directly impact local communities to the same degree as terrestrial mining. The central question then becomes: how significant is the impact from deep sea mining likely to be? The answer will lie, in part, with when and how issues are assessed and changes identified. At this early stage, all parties must focus on how anticipat- ed or identified impacts are to be addressed and create processes that involve local communities in determining whether the balance between benefit and impact is satisfactory (Gibson 2000).

Drivers for the Development of Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific

Authors: Roche, C & and Feenan, J
Intro: Could the world’s hunger for metals and minerals, and state strategies for securing access to them, propel the development of deep sea mining? Identifying the drivers of a Pacific deep sea minerals industry requires a global perspective on met- als demand, an understanding of the forces influencing the mining and minerals industry, and a regional perspective on need and opportunity in the Pacific. The combined picture is complex, with high levels of uncertainty, due to the dynamic and often interrelated nature of the drivers.

Long-term decreasing metal industry productivity, falling ore grades, and increased costs, combined with increased environmental, social, and cultural expectations for sustainability, create an opportunity for deep sea minerals as an alternate source of metal supply (along with reuse and recycling). Across the Pacific Islands region, there is widespread and recognized need for alternative economic development to overcome poverty and meet the rising aspirations of Pacific islanders. Running counter to this is an increasingly vocal concern about impacts and a lack of communal benefit from development projects.

The focus of this chapter is the primary drivers of deep sea mining in the Pacific, with a shorter discussion on secondary drivers and the restrictive forces operating in the region (Table 1). Investigating these drivers provides an objective framework for improved understanding of the forces behind the industry, leading to better decision making. This investigation, like the industry, is in its infancy. Further work is required to better inform Pacific Island states of the factors influencing the future of the industry.