Norway’s deep-sea mining plans could put it on collision course with the EU

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Norway’s deep-sea mining plans could put it on collision course with the EU
Europe's parliament has expressed strong condemnation at Norway's Deep-Sea mining plans. Pictured is the façade of a European Parliament building.

The European Parliament has voted in favour of expressing its deep concerns over Norway's plans to mine the seabed in the Arctic for precious minerals


A European Parliament resolution on Wednesday raised concerns over Norway’s plans to carry out deep-sea mining plans and the impact it could have on EU fisheries, food security, Arctic marine biodiversity and the potential impacts on neighboring countries, environmental news publication ENDS Europe reported.

Despite not being a member of the European Union, Norway is bound to Europe by the EEA Agreement which sees Norway adopt European laws and directives in exchange for access to the single market.

On January 9th, Norway’s parliament voted through proposals for commercial scale deep-sea mining, making it the first country in the world to do so.

Around 280,000 square kilometers of the Norwegian continental shelf could be opened up for deep-sea mining.

The decision was supported by a coalition of parties inside and outside of government. The Conservative Party, Labour Party, Centre Party and Progress Party all voted in favour of the proposal.

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has rejected early criticism of the proposal.

“What has been talked about in the European Parliament in recent days... of what Norway is doing does not match reality,” Støre said to Norwegian newswire NTB on Wednesday .


“Norway is used to claims and statements being made about our management of the marine areas. It has always been the case, whether it has been about whaling or gas operations, or as now, that we have a map of what minerals we have on the seabed,” he also said.

He said that the government had penned a letter to President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to avoid misunderstandings on the matter.

“I have used the opportunity in recent days to inform European colleagues about what Norway is actually doing. It is not like we are going to give the green light to mining on the seabed. There is not a single project that is under consideration, and not a single green light has been given,” Støre said.

Those in favour of the proposal say that the minerals that could be extracted from the seabed are essential for the global transition to green industries.

Scientists, environmental groups and politicians have raised serious concerns about the potential ecological impact of deep-sea mining. A geological survey by the Norwegian government has also expressed reservations.


Experts also argue that the current gaps in scientific understanding of deep-sea ecosystems meaning that it would be too soon to even begin exploration of the seabed for minerals like cobalt, copper, zinc.

The minerals are used in a number of key green energy technologies such as batteries, electric car engines, wind turbines, solar cells, and power lines.

Norway doesn’t expect actual mining activity to begin until the early 2030s and has said that the issuance of licenses would be dependent on environmental studies.



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