The UN has decided to accept proposals for deep-sea mining even though there is no mining code in place. Many nations have urged that there should be stringent regulations for industrial undersea mining.
The International Seabed Authority has determined that it will begin accepting permission applications from businesses who want to mine the ocean floor in July following two weeks of negotiations.
Cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese will be extracted from potato-sized rocks called “polymetallic nodules,” which are found at depths of 4 to 6 kilometres, using undersea mining (about 2.5 miles to 3.7 miles).
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea served as the foundation for the ISA, which is situated in Jamaica. It has jurisdiction over the ocean floors outside the Exclusive Economic Zones of its 167 members.
Companies may submit permit applications starting on July 9 thanks to the ISA’s governing council’s draught resolution. The governing council will examine whether authorization to applications can be postponed in a virtual meeting that will be held before July.
The 36-member council is unsure of the procedure it should use to assess requests for mining contracts in the absence of a mining code, which has been under debate for almost ten years.
Nauru used a provision that gave it the power to require the adoption of a mining legislation within two years in 2021.
“It is now clear that there is still a long way to go and that the two-week session in July will be largely insufficient to finalize the code,” Belgian ambassador Hugo Verbist said Friday.
At the ISA council meeting, several nations raised their concerns and demanded a ban on industrial mining.
Experts and non-governmental organisations have cautioned about the negative effects of deep-sea mining.
“Deep-sea mining would go beyond harming the seabed and have a wider impact on fish populations, marine mammals, and the essential function of the deep-sea ecosystems in regulating the climate,” Vanuatu’s representative, Sylvain Kalsakau, said during the negotiations.
Many nations, like as Canada, Australia, and Belgium, have emphasised that rigorous regulations are necessary before mining can start.