Mining vessel leaves Manzanillo in Mexico after shock decision to greenlight deep sea mining test

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MEXICO CITY— The Hidden Gem, the largest vessel in the world dedicated specifically to mining the seabed in search of minerals, is organizing its first mining operation. It will depart on Wednesday from the Mexican Pacific port of Manzanillo.

This follows the announcement late last week by The Metals Company that the International Seabed Authority has authorized its subsidiary, Nauru Oceans Resources Incorporated, to begin pilot collection of nodules in the Clarion Clipperton area between Hawai’i and Mexico.

The initial test mining phase, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, is another step in TMC’s strategy to pave the way for deep-sea mining. The company’s application to the ISA for a mining contract in July 2021 has resulted in a rush to complete and adopt mining regulations in July 2023. This would expose the world’s oceans to destruction from large-scale mining activities. .

Civil society observers have repeatedly criticized the body for its lack of transparency and condemned this development, which involved the approval of the TMC collection pilot test by the ISA’s Legal and Technical Committee, a body which meets behind closed doors without observers from civil society.

The commission had in fact previously expressed concerns about the content and quality of the TMC’s environmental impact statement. According to observers, making such decisions behind closed doors effectively deprives many states and civil society of having a say in the future of deep seabed ecosystems.

“We are shocked and appalled that the ISA is greenlighting this process in one of the most important and fragile ecosystems on earth when we are already grappling with multiple crises that are eroding the health of the planet. ocean, including its ability to act as an essential ally in the fight against climate change,” said Ornela Garelli, ocean campaigner for Greenpeace Mexico. “Instead of protecting the ocean as a common heritage of humankind, it entrusts it to commercial interests such as TMC, which, despite their own filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, have shown disregard of the irreversible impact this industry is having on services provided by the oceans, including critical carbon sinks, the medicine of the future, and international fishing for tuna and other species. price while TMC takes advantage of its dodgy relationship with the ISA.

During the negotiations before the ISA, the Mexican delegation showed its willingness to move towards the approval of the mining code. He was also careful in acknowledging the importance of having enough scientific information to support compensation for the marine environment if mining activity were to begin. But the delegation was not strong enough to express a position in line with the precautionary approach, especially in this scenario, where it is known that there is not enough scientific information on the impacts of activity to ensure the protection of the marine environment.

“Mexico must play a leading role in the global effort to end mining in international waters,” said Alex Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Mexican government should work with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to end this destructive practice.”

According to reports from The New York Times, TMC, one of the strongest supporters of deep-sea mining, and its predecessors have enjoyed a 15-year relationship with the ISA. This includes preferential access to information that has allowed it to take control of some of the most valuable tracts of seabed for future mining.

The company also reportedly had unprecedented access to international delegates as they debated agenda items, including the company’s request to be allowed to approve a mining equipment test plan. The ISA has allocated about 200,000 square miles of seabed – an area larger than California – for developing countries to carry out exploration work in the reserved areas, with nearly half of that space now under control. TMC workforce. The ISA’s latest clearance to NORI for exploratory mining is a spectacular result of TMC’s lobbying efforts and ISA’s complacency.

The ISA Legal and Technical Committee, which approved this mining pilot, includes people working for mining contractors and meets entirely behind closed doors, leaving no room for civil society to hold it to account. The ISA has regularly come under fire for its lack of transparency, accountability and inclusiveness and for its close relationships with future deep-sea mining companies.

Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Inter-American Conservancy Association are urging world leaders to step in and, at the very least, implement a moratorium on deep-sea mining to protect the environment. ‘ocean.

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