Rotterdam, The Netherlands – As world governments gather to discuss whether to allow deep sea mining to go ahead, Greenpeace activists have scaled a vast 228m deep sea mining vessel in Rotterdam port preparing for mining trials next year.
Twenty activists from Greenpeace Netherlands, Greenpeace Germany and Greenpeace Switzerland approached the towering vessel, starkly named Hidden Gem, by water this morning and scaled its sides to deploy a banner reading ‘No Deep Sea Mining’. The huge Swiss-owned drilling ship, which is longer than two football fields and wider than four double-decker buses laid end to end, is in port to receive extensive renovations believed to make it the world’s first vessel to be classified as a sub-sea mining vessel by the American Bureau of Shipping. The work is being carried out in partnership with Canadian firm The Metals Company (formerly DeepGreen), who plan at-sea trials in 2022.
Speaking from Rotterdam, Greenpeace Netherlands activist Samuel Gosschalk said:
“The scale of this thing is just huge. Make no mistake, this monster machine is built for profit: nothing else. It’s not for delicately exploring the seafloor – it’s for profit at the expense of nature. We know more about the surface of the moon than about the seafloor and we’re still discovering new species in the deep ocean, but these companies just see dollar signs down there. If we don’t act now we risk signing away the fate of the largest ecosystem on Earth to a handful of companies whose only interest is monetising them. It’s environmentally destructive, economically unproven and politically toxic. We need to stop deep sea mining before it begins.”
Meanwhile, governments are meeting at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in Jamaica this week to discuss opening up the seafloor to mining in less than two years’ time. The starting pistol was fired by Pacific island state Nauru in June 2021, backed by The Metals Company, which previously shocked other nations by speaking on behalf of the Nauruan Government at ISA meetings. There is growing opposition to deep sea mining from governments, communities and companies. Campaigners and scientists say allowing deep sea mining to start would be catastrophic for seafloor ecosystems and the health of the ocean, including potential species extinctions and disruptions to carbon storage, worsening the climate crisis.
Louisa Casson, Ocean Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:
“The deep sea mining industry is out for a fast buck and they’re happy for the rest of us to pick up the environmental bill. But they know how risky and unproven this all is – that’s what’s so galling about it. Scientists say it could cause severe and irreversible damage to the biggest ecosystem on Earth, it could wipe out species, it could worsen the climate crisis. So why would governments let it begin in under two years’ time, just because some companies are pushing for it? The ocean belongs to all of us and we all depend on it. There’s too much at stake to let this happen. We need to stop deep sea mining from ever starting and we need a Global Ocean Treaty that puts huge swathes of the ocean off-limits to harmful human activity.”
The last deep sea mining trials in the Pacific Ocean resulted in the loss of control of a 25-tonne mining machine, leaving it stranded on the seafloor before a retrieval operation could be mounted.
Photos and video available to download from the Greenpeace media library here.
 In June this year, the small Pacific Island Nauru, working with a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian corporate – The Metals Company – used a controversial procedure within the ISA called the ‘2 year rule’ to notify governments that it will apply to start full-scale deep sea mining in two years’ time, with whatever rules are in place at that time. This trigger has been criticised by governments from the African, Latin American & Caribbean regions due to significant outstanding issues for negotiation, from equity to environmental risks, when COVID-19 is still disrupting delegates from fully participating in discussions. Governments meeting at the ISA this week discussed the ISA Secretary-General’s proposed ‘roadmap’ that makes completing these rules by July 2023 the ‘primary focus’ of the ISA going forward, despite the regulator’s supposed mandate, and governments’ legal obligations, to protect the oceans. The timing of this trigger coincided with The Metals Company’s merger and subsequent listing in NASDAQ, standing up the company’s claims that it will be able to start deep sea mining and produce revenue by 2024, a point criticised by many Pacific based activists who have led long-standing resistance to deep sea mining. The Metals Company is facing a $200m shortfall and is now involved in multiple legal cases.
Luke Massey, Global Head of Communications and Engagement, Protect the Oceans [email protected], +44 (0) 7411 380 840
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)
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