Posted on November 17, 2020
new way to meet the growing demand for minerals critical to electric vehicle, electronics and battery manufacturers could become commercially available within this decade, says the World Economic Forum (WEF).
It notes that significant public and private investment has gone into investigating ways to extract cobalt, nickel, lithium and other minerals from the deep seabed, while more than 80 nongovernmental organisations have voiced concerns about the dangers of commercial extraction in the ocean.
“While venues exist for countries, scientists, seabed mining industry and environmental organisations to discuss deep-sea mining, companies that use these kinds of minerals – the product manufacturers and metal markets – previously did not have a place to learn about and discuss this topic,” the WEF points out.
To create the space needed for this industry to come together, discuss and engage on this complex issue, the forum has launched the Deep-Sea Minerals Dialogue platform, which will use a multistakeholder approach in the hopes of convening responsible businesses and accelerating their participation in discussions about deep-sea mining.
The new platform will leverage experts with different points of views and analyse decision-making systems and learnings from existing industries, the WEF states.
“Deep-sea mining is a cross-cutting topic that could affect both progress on climate action, as well as the preservation of biodiversity, and is connected with the transition to a circular economy. Stakeholders owe it to themselves and to the planet alike to make the wisest decision possible,” says WEF MD Dominic Waughray.
“The next years are critical as regulatory, technology and investment decisions are being made. These decisions could determine the environmental and social impact of deep-sea minerals. Although the minerals may not enter the supply chain for a few years, examples involving cobalt mining from the Democratic Republic of Congo and palm oil supply from Indonesia, show that failing to act early, can result in costly efforts to clean up the supply chain and reputational impact afterwards,” the organisation emphasises.
A new briefing paper released, Deep-Sea Minerals: What Manufacturers and Markets Need to Know, highlights why mineral sourcing manufacturers and metal markets need to engage now on the deep-sea mineral discussion.
It highlights responsible sourcing considerations for companies that use or exchange metals and minerals, complementing existing reports on the gap between mineral supply and demand as well as the lack of scientific understanding of the deep sea and potential impacts of mineral extraction.
The paper underscores a trend of manufacturers and metal markets increasing their focus on the environmental and social conditions of the minerals they source.
It the first in a series of three papers about the potential extraction of deep-sea minerals, written for manufacturers and market exchanges.
To download a copy of the WEF paper, click here. (6.27 MB)