Google, BMW, Volvo and Samsung SDI sign WWF call for temporary ban on deep sea mining

(Reuters) – Google, BMW, Volvo and Samsung SDI are the first global companies to endorse a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, said on Wednesday the WWF.

FILE PHOTO: The black coral species Umbellapathes litocrada can be seen in this 2015 document photo obtained by Reuters on October 28, 2020. NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration / Document via REUTERS

By supporting the call, companies are pledging not to source minerals from the seabed, exclude these minerals from their supply chains and not fund seabed mining activities, said WWF in a press release.

Deep-sea mining would extract cobalt, copper, nickel and manganese – key materials commonly used to make batteries – from potato-sized nodules that dot the seabed to depths of 4 to 6 kilometers and are particularly abundant in the Clarion-Clipperton area. in the North Pacific Ocean, a vast area stretching millions of kilometers between Hawaii and Mexico.

“With much of the deep-sea ecosystem yet to be explored and understood, such activity would be recklessly short-sighted,” WWF said in a statement.

The moratorium calls for a ban on mining activities in the deep seabed until the risks are fully understood and all alternatives are exhausted.

BMW said raw materials from deep-sea mining are “not an option” for the company at present because scientific findings are insufficient to assess environmental risks. Google and Volvo did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

South Korea’s Samsung SDI said it was the first battery maker to participate in the WWF initiative.

In the meantime, the deep-sea mining companies are continuing preparatory work and research on the seabed permit areas.

Companies that hold exploration licenses for sections of the seabed, including DeepGreen, GSR and UK Seabed Resources – a subsidiary of the UK branch of Lockheed Martin – hope to eventually sell seabed minerals to automakers and manufacturers of batteries.

DeepGreen, which recently announced plans to go public as part of a merger with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), previously said seabed mining would be more sustainable than mining. on earth because it creates less waste and nodules containing minerals have higher concentrations of metals than deposits found on earth.

Meanwhile, Norway has said it could allow companies for deep-sea mining as early as 2023, potentially placing it among the first countries to mine for metals from the seabed.

Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Amran Abocar and Kenneth Maxwell

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