Impact assessment for seabed minerals activity in Norway presented
The Norwegian government believes that seabed minerals can become a new industry that supplies the world with critical minerals for the energy transition.
State secretary Andreas Bjelland Eriksen presented the impact assessment during the Deep Sea Minerals conference in Bergen this week.
The message was well received among the international audience of about 150 people.
A step-by-step approach
Seabed minerals can become a new ocean industry, and we need to make sure this is done in a prudent and responsible way. The government has not made a final decision but wants to explore the opportunities.
Eriksen emphasized that more exploration is needed to make sure the resources can be developed in a cost-effectively and environmentally sound way.
The impact assessment is now out on public hearing with deadline for reply by 27 January 2023.
The legal framework internationally is also moving forwards. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) aims to finalise the Mining Code applicable for international waters in 2023.
People are the most important stakeholders
The Deep Sea Minerals conference was opened by The Cook Islands' Prime Minister Honourable Mark Brown.
Cook Islands assigned three exploration licences earlier this year and one of the sessions will be devoted to the ongoing work and licencing round.
Brown highlighted people, as the most important stakeholder to them in the opening process.
Deep sea minerals is a key part of Cook Islands diversification strategy, and Brown highlighted the rising demand for minerals for the transition to a low carbon future.
We need to win the hearts and minds of the people and provide all sides of the story. This needs to be science and evidence based. Brown believes that none of the challenges we are facing are unsolvable. We need to take the people with us, learn from each other and share knowledge and expertise from those on a similar journey.
Technologies are maturing
All are considering projects and activities both in Norway and internationally. A key strategy is building strong partnerships and alliances.
Questions were raised on the relatively low technology readiness level for the industry presented in the impact assessment. The panel pointed out that a lot of work has been done recently to mature and advance the technology.
Anette Broch Mathisen Tvedt CEO of Adepth Minerals mentioned their technology for coring going from TRL 2 to 4 since the report was published, with plans for shallow water testing later this year and deep sea testing next year.
Walter Sognnes, CEO of Loke Marine Minerals, plans testing of new technology together with the University of Bergen this autumn.
The panel also referenced to the full-scale pilot being conducted by The Metals Company and Allseas in the Pasific as we speak. This demonstrated that technology is maturing fast and producing minerals from the deep sea is technically possible.
Many reports suggest that deep sea minerals will come with the least negative impact to the climate and environment.
The main point going forward will be to gain more knowledge and demonstrate that deep sea minerals will come with the least negative impact compared to the alternative sourcing of the critical minerals needed for the clean energy transition.
The international conference gathered 150 people in Bergen to learn more about the importance of minerals in the energy transition and how marine minerals can play an important role in diversification of the supply.
The conference is organised by GeoPublishing and addresses environmental aspects, geology, technology and innovation to secure mineral for the green shift.
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