New rules for deep-sea mining set to pass 2023 deadline, Latam and Caribbean countries say

A polymetallic nodule, or manganese, is on display at the booth of DeepGreen Resources, a seabed mining startup, at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 4 2019. REUTERS / Chris Helgren

  • Jamaica-based United Nations to finalize regulations by mid-2023
  • COVID-19 blocked negotiations, restricted access
  • Member States and observers request postponement of December meetings

JOHANNESBURG, Oct.29 (Reuters) – Regulations governing deep-sea mining will take longer to finalize due to the global pandemic, a group of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have said, creating uncertainty for companies looking to mine the seabed for battery metals.

The delayed negotiations also pose a potential difficulty for companies seeking funding from investors to exploit the seabed.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) based in Kingston, Jamaica, is working on global rules for seabed mining, which is not allowed until the regulations are finalized.

The small Pacific state of Nauru tried to speed up the process by triggering a two-year deadline in June for the completion of the rules. Nauru is a state sponsor of the subsidiary of the mining company The Metals Co (TMC.O) Nauru Ocean Resources Inc (NORI). Read more

Costa Rica, for a group of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, said “no tangible progress has been made” towards adopting regulations and guidelines for mining. His submission, dated October 13, was posted on the ISA’s website Thursday.

The letter says the ISA Council may not be able to finalize and adopt the required regulations within the two-year time frame, adding that delegations are far from reaching agreement on key issues.

Countries represented in the submission included Argentina, Bahamas, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago.

An ISA spokesperson said he had no comment on Costa Rica’s letter, but said the ISA Legal and Technical Commission prepared 10 draft standards and guidelines in meetings. remotely in 2020 and 2021, and these were subject to public consultation for three months. .

In July, a group of African countries criticized the acceleration of negotiations, calling the task of agreeing on regulations by mid-2023 “seemingly insurmountable”. Read more

Deep-sea mining involves sucking potato-sized rocks rich in cobalt, nickel and other battery metals from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at depths of 4-6 km.

Many scientists and conservationists have called for a ban on mining on the high seas, saying it could cause lasting damage to poorly understood habitats. The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) call for a moratorium has been joined by companies such as automaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) Google. Read more

In September, the ISA said the ISA Council and ISA Assembly meetings will be held in Kingston from December 6-10 and December 13-15, with restrictions on the number of delegates. may enter the meeting room, due to the pandemic.

Chile and two environmental groups recently called for meetings to be postponed due to restrictions, in letters seen by Reuters. Chile proposed postponing the Council meeting from April 4 to 8, 2022.

Jamaica’s COVID-19 measures include a quarantine period even for vaccinated arrivals and a 50-person limit for meetings, making it difficult for representatives from around the world to attend.

In an October 25 letter viewed by Reuters, ISA Secretary General Michael Lodge opposed Chile’s proposal and said a meeting in December was “both necessary and urgent.”

Reporting by Helen Reid, editing by Amran Abocar, Jane Merriman and Lincoln Feast; Editing by David Gregorio

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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