Norway introduces proposal to open its sea bed to mining
The Norwegian government announced a proposal to open parts of the Norwegian continental shelf for commercial seabed mineral activities.
In a statement published at the government’s website, Petroleum and Energy Minister Terje Aasland said the proposal would help Norway become a leader in the production of critical minerals while it decreases it reliance on foreign sources.
Norway outlined a strategy to become “a global leader in a fact- and knowledge-based management of seabed mineral resources.”
“We need minerals to succeed in the green transition. Currently, the resources are controlled by a few countries, which makes us vulnerable. Seabed minerals can become a source of access to essential metals, and no other country is better positioned to take the lead in managing such resources sustainably and responsibly. Success will be crucial for the world's long-term energy transition,” said Aasland.
Norway said it has significant anticipated mineral resources on the seabed. If proven to be profitable and extraction can be done sustainably, seabed mineral activities can contribute to value creation and employment in Norway while ensuring the supply of crucial metals for the global energy transition. Extraction of minerals could become a new and important industry for Norway.
“To acquire more knowledge, we need to gather expertise and open for commercial mapping, exploration and extraction of seabed minerals. Therefore, we are proposing to open an area on the Norwegian continental shelf for mineral activities,” said Aasland.
Existing knowledge indicates that mapping, exploration, and closure have minimal environmental impact. Any extraction will only be approved if the rights holder’s recovery plan demonstrates that the extraction can occur in a sustainable and responsible manner.
“Seabed mineral activities are a new industry, both globally and in Norway. Currently, we have limited knowledge about the deep-sea areas where the resources are located. I firmly believe that if the industry identifies resources that they consider economically viable to extract, it will be possible to extract these resources sustainably and responsibly. We will proceed step by step, continue building experience, and base our regulatory framework on facts and knowledge. Environmental considerations will weigh heavily throughout the value chain,” said Aasland.
Before an area can be opened for mineral activities, an opening process must be carried out. The opening process was initiated by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in 2020 and consists of two main parts: an impact assessment process and a resource assessment.
A growing numbers of countries including Germany, France, Spain, Chile, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Panama among others, have asked the United Nations-affiliated International Seabed Authority (ISA) to not rush into enacting mining regulations by July 2023 — a deadline that was set in 2021.
Photo: Bodø Norway sea ocean mountain landscape snow, Shutterstock