Millions for Eco-Safe Ridge Mining Project
A competence building project coordinated by the University of Bergen will investigate if deep-sea mining on the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge can take place sustainably, avoiding significant harm to the environment.
The project will run for three years with a total budget of approximately 18 million NOK, where more than 13 million are granted by the Research Council of Norway.
The Norwegian government has initiated a process to open areas of its extended continental shelf to mineral exploration and exploitation, but also determined that the potential environmental impacts must be known before mining licenses can be issued. These impacts are difficult to predict without thorough knowledge of the structure, and functions of deep-sea ecosystems.
Addressing Key Scientific Questions
The Eco-Safe Ridge Mining research project aims to fill key knowledge gaps, assess environmental risks and identify appropriate mitigation actions regarding deep-sea mining. The study area is the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge, where seafloor massive sulphide deposits containing strategic metals co-occur with vulnerable habitats such as hydrothermal vents and sponge grounds.
A better understanding of deep-sea ecosystems associated with seabed mineral deposits is crucial and timely to inform policy and management decisions, says Dr. Pedro Ribeiro, deep-sea ecologist and project leader at the University of Bergen.
To advance our understanding of the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge ecosystems and their response to disturbance, the project will collect baseline environmental data on different seabed habitats and characterize their natural state. Additional studies will determine how populations of organisms living at different sites are interconnected, enabling predictions about their ability to persist and recover from disturbance.
Possible environmental effects of mining plumes and tolerance thresholds of seabed biota will be investigated through modeling as well as laboratory and field experiments. In addition to targeting specific knowledge gaps related to mining, the project will promote scientific exploration of Arctic deep-sea ecosystems and provide training and education opportunities to young scientists.
Basis for Environmental Management
Eco-Safe Ridge Mining employs an ecological risk assessment framework, making its scientific outputs relevant to environmental management of deep-sea mining. The partnership between the academia and the industry will enable development of mining technology and procedures with a minimal environmental footprint.
Norwegian authorities will be informed about the results of the project on a regular basis so that decision making regarding exploration and exploitation of the areas under Norwegian jurisdiction is based on best available knowledge.
– We look forward to taking active part and see the results of this collaboration project. It is crucial to accelerate the knowledge gathering, secure a good understanding of deep-sea ecosystems and possible negative impact of potential future exploitation activities, says Jon O. Hellevang, R&D Manager in GCE Ocean Technology.
The goal of this collaborative project type supported by the Research Council of Norway is to meet societal and industry-related challenges. The project will develop new knowledge and generate research competence needed by society or the business sector to address important societal challenges.
The Norwegian Research Council wants to encourage and support collaboration between research organisations and stakeholders from outside the research sector that represent societal and/or industry needs for knowledge and research competence.
About Eco-Safe Ridge Mining
Eco-Safe Ridge Mining is a three-year competence building project coordinated by the University of Bergen. The total budget is about 18 million NOK, where more than 13 million are granted by the Research Council of Norway.
The project partners are the University of Bergen, NORCE, the University of Stavanger, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Equinor, GCE Ocean Technology, Norwegian oil and gas association, Loke Marine Minerals, Adepth Minerals and Aanderaa Data Instruments.
GCE Ocean Technology
GCE Ocean Technology has taken an active role in the investigation of the possibility to establishing a new industry within marine minerals.
The cluster has hosted several seminar and conferences as well as established large spin-off project to develop the industry.
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