Norway Is Taking the Next Steps Towards Deep-Sea Mining

by | 27. Jun 2024 - 09:13 | Politics

The Scandinavian country aims to award its first exploration permits in 2025.

The Norwegian Government is forging ahead with its plans to mine minerals on its continental shelf. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Energy published a proposal for the first licensing round, aiming to award initial exploration permits in the first half of 2025. The proposal outlines designated areas for which companies may apply.

In June 2023, the Scandinavian country announced its first intention to extract minerals from the ocean floor. Then, in January of this year, the Norwegian Parliament voted in favor of opening up an area in the North Atlantic between the Svalbard archipelago and Jan Mayen island for deep-sea mining exploration (we reported). The Wednesday published proposal comprises approximately 38 percent of the area opened in January, split into 386 blocks.

Credit: Norwegian Offshore Directorate Sokkeldirektoratet

The First Country to Mine its Continental Shelf

Norway is set to become the first country to mine its continental shelf. The topic is controversial because there is little data on the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining. Hence, countries such as the UK and Germany have called for a moratorium on issuing deep-sea mining permits in the past, arguing that more studies must be conducted first.

Referencing the environmental concerns, Norwegian Minister of Energy Terje Aasland highlighted in the proposal that Norway seeks “to explore if it is possible to extract seabed minerals in a sustainable manner.” The proposal also clarifies that awarding exploration licenses is not an exploitation permit, and companies must conduct impact assessments proving that a project can mine minerals sustainably and responsibly.  Aasland, however, highlighted that “the world needs minerals for the green transition.”

On the other side of the globe, Japan also discovered substantial amounts of resources on its continental shelf in a recent study. A professor from the University of Tokyo leading the study there calls for swift action to mine them, arguing that “it’s extremely important to give birth to a new ocean industry in the context of creating innovations.” The Asian country aims to mine minerals in the deep sea by the end of the decade.

Photo: iStock/inusuke

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