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Old 20-12-2019, 05:23   #1
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Undersea Mining

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin
It’s underwater—and the consequences are unimaginable.

We’re about to make one of the biggest transformations that humans have ever made to the surface of the planet. We’re going to strip-mine a massive habitat, and once it’s gone, it isn’t coming back.

More ☞ https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...=pocket-newtab

The International Seabed Authority Mining Code ☞ https://www.isa.org.jm/mining-code
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Old 20-12-2019, 06:26   #2
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Re: Undersea Mining

From the first article:
Quote:
As he spoke, I realized that for Lodge, none of these questions warranted reflection—or anyway, he didn’t see reflection as part of his job. He was there to facilitate mining, not to question the wisdom of doing so.
Articles like this make it difficult for me to have faith in humanity as a whole.
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Old 20-12-2019, 14:42   #3
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Re: Undersea Mining

A growing demand for batteries, to power electric cars, and to store wind and solar energy, has driven up the cost of many rare-earth metals, and bolstered the business case for sea-bed mining. What’s more, the industry’s long-awaited regulations (in the form of a mining code) are due to be finalized by 2020, putting in place a process whereby contractors can apply for 30-year licences to mine assigned ‘claim areas’, in parts of the international sea bed, such as the Clarion–Clipperton Zone . Already, miners are exploring the potential wealth of these claim areas, but no commercial extraction will begin until the regulations are in place.

In 1972, a young ecologist named Hjalmar Thiel ventured to a remote part of the Pacific Ocean, known as the Clarion–Clipperton Zone (CCZ) - sometimes called the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ). The sea floor there boasts one of the world’s largest untapped collections of rare-earth elements. Some 4,000 metres below the ocean surface, the abyssal ooze of the CCZ holds trillions of polymetallic nodules — potato-sized deposits loaded with copper, nickel, manganese and other precious ores.

Thirty years on, the test that Thiel and a colleague devised is still the largest experiment ever, on the potential impacts of commercial deep-sea mining. Called DISCOL, the simple trial involved raking the centre of a roughly 11-square-kilometre plot in the Pacific Ocean with an 8-metre-wide implement, called a plough harrow. The simulated mining created a plume of disturbed sediment, that rained down and buried most of the study area, smothering creatures on the sea floor. The test revealed that the impacts of sea-bed mining reached further than anyone had imagined, but it did not actually extract any rocks from the sea bed, which itself would have destroyed even more marine life.

Since the DISCOL experiment was completed, scientists have returned to the site four times, most recently in 2015. The site has never recovered. In the ploughed areas, which remain as visible today as they were 30 years ago, there’s been little return of characteristic animals such as sponges, soft corals and sea anemones.

Deep-sea biologist Craig Smith, at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, has spent 30 years studying the communities in the CCZ, where he has collected sea cucumbers, sea urchins, soft corals, starfish, sea anemones, worms and much more. Roughly 90% of the animal species, his group has collected, are new to science or undescribed. Among these are rare species, not found anywhere else in the deep sea. Smith thinks that, even now, scientists have sampled just 0.01% of the total area of the CCZ.


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Old 22-12-2019, 08:14   #4
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Re: Undersea Mining

Too bad. Apple wants us to have cheaper iPhones, and since it’s in international waters, the mining can’t be taxed: no one has jurisdiction. If one country tries, the company will move its base elsewhere. iPhones along with everything else will be cheaper!! In any case, the industry will police itself - the same way the lumber industry in Brazil does. We’re all seeing how well that is going.
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Old 22-12-2019, 09:09   #5
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Re: Undersea Mining

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Originally Posted by psk125 View Post
... no one has jurisdiction...
The International Seabed Authority has jurisdiction.

The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization, established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Authority is the organization through which States Parties to the Convention shall, in accordance with the regime for the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area) established in Part XI and the Agreement, organize and control activities in the Area, particularly with a view to administering the resources of the Area.

All rules, regulations and procedures, issued by the International Seabed Authority, are issued within a general legal framework, established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and its 1994 Implementing Agreement relating to deep seabed mining.

To date, the treaty remains one of forty-five treaties (one dating back to 1945) awaiting US Senate action. As a result, the United States remains off the list of 168 state parties to UNCLOS, a list which includes all other major maritime powers such as Russia and China. In practice, the United States has accepted, and complies with, nearly all the treaty’s provisions.

The adoption of UNCLOS in 1982 was one of the greatest achievements of the United Nations. One of the Convention's most important contributions is that it placed more than 50 per cent of the seabed under international jurisdiction, beyond the reach of any single State. Although it has taken more than 50 years of multilateral effort to begin to realize the promise of the "common heritage of mankind" envisioned by Ambassador Pardo and enshrined in UNCLOS, the prospects for sustainable exploitation of seabed mineral resources are better now than at almost any other time in the last 30 years.

Ultimately, the economic advantages of deep seabed mining, most likely in the form of royalties paid to the Authority, are to be shared for the "benefit of mankind as a whole", with particular emphasis on the developing countries that lack the technology and capital to carry out seabed mining for themselves.

The regulation are currently being negotiated. I have some concern that the above principles may not be fully upheld, and the public welfare may suffer, at the hands of corporate interests. We'll soon see (next year).
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Old 22-12-2019, 09:30   #6
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Re: Undersea Mining

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
The International Seabed Authority has jurisdiction.

The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization, established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),SNIP

Ultimately, the economic advantages of deep seabed mining, most likely in the form of royalties paid to the Authority, are to be shared for the "benefit of mankind as a whole", with particular emphasis on the developing countries that lack the technology and capital to carry out seabed mining for themselves.
While the LOS has been signed by the majority of nations on earth it is interesting to note the nations that have not signed it; and one of the main reasons they have not signed it. The reason US for one has not signed it relates to sharing the profits from deep see mining with developing countries. The thing is the UN has a huge majority of developing countries, many of them tiny nations with tiny economies, who vote for things that will result in the developed countries sending them money. The US has signed agreements related to the LOS about what I will call not controversial things like rules of the road, how boats/ships are required to display lights, and in general things sea faring nations agree on.

But the problem with the LOS is it has strayed from it's initial justification of how vessels transit the seas to what some would view as social engineering.

I had read the Atlantic article a while back and one thing it noted was that mining on land had resulted in environmental disasters and maybe moving these disasters out of sight would be more widely accepted than what is happening on land.

While I have no doubt deep sea mining will be an environmental disaster I can easily see the votes from developing countries, who will get what will be big bucks to them, along with votes resulting from payoff to other countries from big mining companies resulting in allowing deep sea mining to proceed.
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Old 22-12-2019, 10:07   #7
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Re: Undersea Mining

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Originally Posted by tomfl View Post
While the LOS has been signed by the majority of nations on earth it is interesting to note the nations that have not signed it; ...
Indeed.
Countries who haven’t signed nor acceded to either the Convention or the Agreement: Andorra, Eritrea, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Perú, San Marino, South Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United States of America, Uzbekistan, the Vatican, and Venezuela.

The U.S. has not accepted UNCLOS because of opposition from Republicans in the Senate, where treaties must be approved by a two-thirds' vote.
The US Senate is (& has been) generally skeptical about U.S. participation in international treaties and systems, viewing them as undermining U.S. sovereignty.

The U.S. Government (executive) has always supported UNCLOS and abided by its provisions, regardless of the Senate's reluctance to ratify the treaty. This has been the position of Presidents from both political parties ever since the treaty was signed. Successive Presidents have stated that they will comply by UNCLOS, and there is enough international consensus, in support of UNCLOS, that you can argue that it is “customary international law”, and that the United States has not acted as a “persistent objector”, and therefore it is binding on the United States, regardless of the refusal of the US Senate to ratify it.

The main impact is probably that the U.S. can participate, only as an observer, in the International Seabed Authority, a multilateral group that was formed by the UNCLOS.

Other relevant international bodies, like the International Maritime Organization, and the International Whaling Commission, were founded before the UNCLOS, and before the Senate stopped ratifying most multilateral treaties, so the US is a full member of those groups.

The Republican viewpoint is well-represented by the Heritage Foundation:
Here ➥ https://www.heritage.org/global-poli...he-law-the-sea
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Old 22-12-2019, 10:33   #8
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Re: Undersea Mining

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...maybe moving these disasters out of sight would be more widely accepted than what is happening on land.
This is a big issue with the current environmental movement, very few consider the big picture. Recycling in NA is a good one, most recycle but few know where it goes or how it is used and in many cases ends up in landfills. The new ‘green’ electric cars and their batteries, cheap PV panels from China; show some of the costs associated with strip mining and runoff from production and they just don’t care because it’s out of sight and not in their backyard. It doesn’t do anyone any good to clean up their own backyard by dumping all their crap in their neighbours.
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Old 22-12-2019, 10:50   #9
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Re: Undersea Mining

The following paper provides an extensive and fascinating exploration of the subject of deep sea mining (DSM) economics:

“The Development of a Payment Regime for Deep Sea Mining Activities in the Area through Stakeholder Participation” ~ by Kris Van Nijen & Steven Van Passel, in The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law
https://brill.com/view/journals/estu...cle-p571_3.xml
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Old 22-12-2019, 11:27   #10
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Re: Undersea Mining

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...their own backyard...
And that's exactly the point; the entire planet is our collective 'own backyard'.

Which the leaders in the "current environmental movement" understand very well indeed.
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Old 22-12-2019, 12:05   #11
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Re: Undersea Mining

So... a U.S. company goes out and starts mining the seabed. Since the US isn’t party to the treaty they refuse to pay royalties. Or they switch their operations into an Andorran company. Or a Peruvian outfit. Whack-a-mole on a big scale, that they can afford to do for a long time. Antarctica is warming up, too. We need a better approach, with teeth to ensure compliance.
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Old 22-12-2019, 12:20   #12
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Re: Undersea Mining

Yep, time for a new 'new world order'.

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Old 22-12-2019, 17:51   #13
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Re: Undersea Mining

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Originally Posted by rbk View Post
This is a big issue with the current environmental movement, very few consider the big picture. Recycling in NA is a good one, most recycle but few know where it goes or how it is used and in many cases ends up in landfills. The new ‘green’ electric cars and their batteries, cheap PV panels from China; show some of the costs associated with strip mining and runoff from production and they just don’t care because it’s out of sight and not in their backyard. It doesn’t do anyone any good to clean up their own backyard by dumping all their crap in their neighbours.
Some of us work in the renewables industry. We do care, very much. We also know our industry very well and know exactly how much damage is done producing a solar panel, how much power that panel will produce over it's lifetime, and what the waste product will be at end of life. And we know how much vastly smaller all that is than the waste and health impacts to produce the same amount of power by coal, or even nuclear or gas. So please, unless you really know exactly what you're talking about, don't accuse those of us who live, eat, sleep, and breath this of not caring....it's deeply insulting on top of being false, neither of which I'm sure were your intention.
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Old 22-12-2019, 19:30   #14
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Re: Undersea Mining

While Redneckrob is right about then lifetime environmental damage of a solar panel being far less than burning coal, the US recycling industry is a mess -- controlled by a few large companies like Waste Management who have been doing terrible damage.

The attached amazingly depressing Sierra Club piece describes how companies like Waste Management and Casella sold US municipalities on "single stream" recycling where US recycling was shipped to China. The municipalities were paid handsomely for this recycling and didn't ask too many questions.

Well, many of those bales of unsorted recycling were too contaminated for the Chinese to process (often from things like dirty pet food cans). The unusable bales were shipped to impoverished Chinese coastal villages who salvaged some and threw the rest into rivers that went to the Pacific -- including about 2 million TONS of plastic a year. Ironically, much of the Pacific plastic pollution that's so in our news is made up of US recyclables.

After about 10 years the Chinese stopped taking US recycling. So now a lot of US recycling is just thrown in landfill -- which is probably a better idea than into the Pacific. Recycling is a good idea - we just have to be a lot smarter about what we recycle and how we do it.

I realize this is a lot of thread drift from mining but the same rule applies. There may be an environmentally good way to mine rare earths from the ocean - but large corporations without tight regulation aren't going to do that.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/20...system-garbage
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Old 23-12-2019, 02:47   #15
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Re: Undersea Mining

As interesting as some might find it, I don't think that “Munk Debate on Capitalism” is particularly germane to our topic of discussion, nor appropriate for the CF.
However FWIW:
The introduction begins at 14:00 Min.
The actual debate begins at about 22:00 Min.
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