Europe must prepare to support deep-sea mining to secure the metals essential for the clean energy transition, warned the new Norwegian owner of UK Seabed Resources, which looks to British industry.
Hans Olav Hide, chairman of Norway’s Loke Marine Minerals, said the controversial practice could help Britain and the EU compete in the face of China’s domination of the battery metal supply chain. rice field.
“Marine minerals are a very clear response to the geopolitical situation,” said Hide, noting the focus of Western governments on energy security since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “People are starting to realize that we need to get away from . . . China has everything covered.”
“If you build a battery factory, you can get money.” government, he told the Financial Times. “But if you ask where they source their minerals, it’s either China or Russia.”
Deep-sea mining advocates are struggling to meet the massive increase in demand for energy transition metals at a time when land-based projects face long wait times for permits and growing opposition from local communities. , said that deep-sea mining could play an important role.
Critics, however, warn that the practice poses a serious threat to marine ecosystems and biodiversity, and could have far-reaching implications.
While global rules permitting deep-sea mining have not yet been ratified, companies in various jurisdictions have obtained exploration licenses from the United Nations-backed International Seabed Authority.
The ISA debated this week whether to give the green light to extracting manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt from potato-sized nodules up to 5,000 meters below sea level.
Hide’s appeal to Europe to secure minerals from the seafloor comes days after the EU announced a Critical Raw Materials Act aimed at increasing the security of block supply.
Demand for commodities such as copper, lithium and rare earths is set to surge as they are used in key technologies and infrastructure to decarbonize the global economy, including electric vehicles, renewable energy and grid upgrades.
For years, the EU’s reliance on imports of critical raw materials subject to supply pressure from China And it threatens the goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Most of the world’s cobalt is refined in China. All rare earth It will be used to make magnets for electric cars and wind turbines, he said last month.
A mining company must obtain the support of an ISA Member State in order to obtain an exploration license. The UK, France, India, Russia and China are among the countries providing such assistance.
Based in Norwegian oil capital Stavanger, Rourke is backed by companies such as Norwegian defense contractor Kongsberg Grupper, British offshore engineers Technip FMC and Norwegian shipping group Wilhelmsen.
In March, it acquired British undersea resources from US defense group Lockheed Martin for an undisclosed amount. UKSR’s assets include his two licenses in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean, the largest deposit of battery metals known.
Loke plans to make an investment decision on mining in the Pacific in 2027, but if it does, it will face an uphill battle to build its supply chain and customer base.
Commodity group Glencore and Danish shipping company Maersk have invested in The Metals Company, a Canadian start-up with an exploration license in the CCZ. But large potential consumers, including Tesla and BMW, say they won’t touch metals mined from the ocean due to environmental concerns.
Nick Popovich, co-head of copper and zinc trading at Glencore, said at last month’s FT Commodities Summit that even if environmental concerns were set aside, economic uncertainties around deepwater mining could drive deepwater growth. Mining has become a difficult investment proposition, he said.
“The problem with deep-sea mining is that it’s early in the game, so without meaningful examples, I personally have a hard time evaluating it,” he said.
https://www.ft.com/content/1d58455b-60f6-499d-aabe-2a7a3a108fef Deep-sea mining is key to the transition to clean energy, said Loke.