Maritime Forum

Maritime Forum Themes


Kick off meeting - deep-sea mining - summary and presentation by contractor

Event date:
27/01/2014 - 05:00
Table of Contents

    Yannick Beaudoin (GRID Arendal)

    Ann Dom (Seas at Risk)

    German Esteban-Muniz (DG RTD)

    Nicolas Fournier (Oceana)

    Johan Gille (Ecorys)

    Stephen Hodgson (MRAG

    Eszter Kantor (Ecorys)

    Helena Maria Cavaco-Viegas (DG ENTR)

    Roelof-Jan Molemaker (Ecorys)

    Sven Petersen (Geomar)

    Iain Shepherd (EC DG MARE)

    Nigel Smith (EC DG ENV)

    Marjan van Schijndel (Ecorys)

    Phil Weaver (Seascape)



    DG MARE announced that Seas at Risk and Oceana had expressed interest in the meeting. They will join the Steering Committee that follow the study together with officials from different Directorates General of the Commission,.

    Ecorys and its partners had submitted an inception report, which was presented at the meeting. A number of points were raised:

    • The overall aim of the study is to help the Commission develop an approach towards deep sea mining.
    • EU research projects Blue Mining and MIDAS are starting at the same time as the study so good communication is necessary so as to avoid asking stakeholders the same questions twice. MIDAS and Blue Mining project participants are represented in the study team so a coherent approach is assured.
    • Economic issues
      • The analysis of land-based mineral sources will be made at a global level. Geo-political issues such as safety in transit countries, export restrictions or access to resources will also be examined as well as the contribution of recycling as a metal source. A number of demand scenarios will be developed.
      • a comparison with land-based mining will be made
      • Developing countries have expressed considerable interest in the cost of decommissioning. There is little knowledge as deep sea mining exploitation has not started but the issue will be covered along with other environmental issues. The MIDAS project will research this aspect in further detail.
      • Overall employment impacts will be considered but may not be large. It will be important to also consider royalties both for the Exclusive Economic Zone and Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction
    • Legal Issues
      • The extension of continental shelves and existing international agreements on environmental impacts will be considered in the legal analysis.
    • Geological issues
      • 95% of deposits currently known are present in quantities that are too small to mine. The depth of sulphides and therefore the recoverable quantity can only be assessed by drilling. Only information that can be made public is useful.
      • Boundaries of Marine Protected Areas should be included although there are few in deep water.
    • Ongoing projects
      • The results of the study will be public so confidential information need not be considered..
    • Environmental analysis:
      • as there is effectively no deep- sea mining today, there are many unknowns with regard to environmental impacts. It will be important to at least highlight these unknowns.
      • local employment impacts will not be covered but rather how environmental impacts may affect social structures.
      • The International Resource Panel could be a useful data source as well as studies on deep sea ecosystems,
      • FFollowing the first round of reporting from Member States under the MSFD, an assessment of the state of implementation of the Directive is being prepared by DG ENV and is due to be ready in mid-February.

    Planning of reports and workshops

    • An interim report will be submitted at the end of March, which will contain preliminary findings of the technological, legal and environmental along with other results available by then. These tasks will not be finalised but will be sufficient basis for the stakeholder workshop in April.
    • The  stakeholder workshop will be held on 29 and 30 April in Brussels. The aim is to validate research findings, rather than provide an open consultation. In order to achieve an effective working session, the group of participants should be limited to about thirty and cover a good cross-section of various expert backgrounds (academics, industry, NGOs, Member State representatives to the International Seabed Authority. The consultants will prepare a draft list of invitees. The Steering Committee  may provide additional suggestions.
    • Seas at Risk holds its annual general assembly in June. The consultant is willing to present the results  there.

    Stakeholder consultation:

    • The questionnaire should  accommodate inputs from the general public on issues such as acceptance as well as those already involved. Different questions may be asked to different stakeholders.
    • An open question on what the EU could do was suggested.
    • Both deep sea and shallow sea mining should be considered. Aggregates would be a separate category.
    • The questionnaire should be finalised by 7 February. Commission services will programme the software.
    • The introductory text (one-pager) and consultation paper should aim to briefly explain the issue to those with no background knowledge. It should also refer to relevant policy initiatives such as the Raw Materials Initiative and Blue Growth.