Germany has called for a pause in the developing deep-sea mining industry, saying not enough is known about the likely impacts of mining the seabed for battery metals.
The world’s fourth-biggest economy, Germany joins countries including New Zealand and France in calling for seabed mining exploration to stop until further research is done on environmental effects. German carmakers Volkswagen and BMW have previously said they would not buy metals mined from the seabed.
The move by Germany is likely to change the dynamic of negotiations at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) over deep-sea mining regulations, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition co-founder Matthew Gianni, who is observing the talks in Jamaica, said.
“It is indicative of states saying, ‘we need to take control of this process’,” he said, adding some states represented at the ISA, a UN body in charge of drawing up rules governing seabed mining, had become more vocal about environmental concerns.
The ISA on Monday began its third session of negotiations this year over draft regulations, with talks in Kingston scheduled to last until Nov. 11.
“The German Government here wants to underline its view that the current knowledge and available science is insufficient to approve deep seabed mining until further notice,” Germany’s delegation said at the ISA on Monday, describing its call for a pause in the industry as “precautionary”.
Germany will not sponsor any plans for deep-sea mining “until the deep-sea ecosystems and the impacts of deep-sea mining have been sufficiently researched,” the delegation added in the statement, which was shared by Germany’s environment ministry on Tuesday.
Germany’s Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) has since July 2006 had an exploration contract for manganese-rich rocks covering 77,230 square kilometres of seabed in the northern Pacific’s Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
The contract, initially for 15 years, was last year extended for a further five years.
The ISA is meeting from Oct 31 to Nov 11.
(By Helen Reid; Editing by Amran Abocar and Mark Potter)