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Norway Considers Opening Huge Area To Deep Sea Mining

Norway’s government plans to submit to Parliament in the coming weeks plans to open a large area to deep sea mining as it seeks to access and extract critical minerals from the seabed.

The government has prepared an impact assessment which was open for comments until the end of January this year. The Petroleum and Energy Ministry now plans to submit a report and a plan to open a Germany-size area to deep sea mining to Parliament, which is expected to vote on the proposal this autumn.

The plan has drawn opposition from environmental groups and the fishermen’s association.

The government and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) believe that deep sea mining could become an important new industry in Norway and could help raise supply of metals key to the energy transition.

Deep sea mining could help Europe meet the “desperate need for more minerals, rare earth materials to make the transition happen,” Amund Vik, state secretary in Petroleum and Energy Ministry, told the Financial Times.

Early this year, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate issued a resource assessment, in which it said that there were “substantial resources on the Norwegian shelf.”

Copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, rare earth minerals, and other critical minerals could be found on the Norwegian seabed, according to the report, which noted that “The NPD’s assessment is that the resources in place are significant. For several of the metals, the mineral resources compare to many years of global consumption.”
Still, the NPD noted that “It remains to be seen whether the areas will be opened, and whether production can be profitable from a financial standpoint.”

At the end of the consultation period in January, Norway’s Fishermen’s Association said that the impact assessment had “significant shortcomings” on the impact on environment and fisheries. The government’s assessment “is not a good enough decision-making basis to authorize a possible opening of large parts of the Norwegian Sea for deep sea mining.”

WWF’s Norwegian chapter, Greenpeace, and other environmental organizations called on the government to halt the process of opening the shelf to deep sea mining as the assessment has many unanswered questions about the consequences of exploration and extraction on the Norwegian economy, climate, and seabed habitat.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for