Samplings of metals. (Photo: Nautilus Minerals)
The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, a small activist group in Australia, is also working to fill these knowledge gaps. As a community development consultant in Papua New Guinea, the Campaign’s coordinator Helen Rosenbaum was aware of the concern and confusion over this mine from the local communities.
“What we push for is free, prior and informed consent, not just going out and telling people that this is going to be fantastic for them without full information disclosure,” Rosenbaum says.
The Campaign released two reports in response to Nautilus’s Environmental Impact Statement, concluding that not enough scientific evidence had been released to prove that coastal communities and ecosystems would be free of risk.
One of these reports suggests the local benefits of this new agreement are minimal financial returns, and hardly any jobs will be created for locals because of how specialized the positions are for this type of mining.
The report also goes beyond Solwara 1 and raises other issues, such as the cumulative impacts of several deep sea mines throughout the region, which are most likely going to result from the 1 million kilometres of Pacific sea floor under exploration licence.
“Given the connective nature of the ocean, those kinds of impacts are of great concern regionally,” Rosenbaum says.
Another option proposed by both environmental campaigners is the recycling of metals from electronic waste. The United Nations estimates that up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are thrown away globally each year. According to Rosenbaum, the yield from this garbage would easily compete with the potential yields from deep sea mining, and jobs would be created, especially in countries like Ghana where the electronic waste sent over from Europe is piling up.