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Comment: Government’s backing of a moratorium on deep sea mining

30 October 2023

The Government has today announced that it is backing a moratorium on deep sea mining exploitation, accepting recommendations from two previous EAC reports: The UK and the Arctic Environment (2023); and Sustainable Seas (2019).

Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“As far back as 2019 our Committee has warned that deep sea mining would have catastrophic impacts on habitats and species. As we approach net zero and the need to transition to a clean economy, the demand on precious resources that can be extracted by deep sea mining will inevitably increase. But this must be done in a considered way and with the backing of scientists that the environment and its inhabitants will not be severely impacted. The Government’s move today backing a moratorium on deep sea mining will allow these vital investigations to take place before irreversible harm is done.”

Environmental Audit Sub-Committee on Polar Research Chair, James Gray MP, said:

“The UK Government supporting a moratorium on deep sea mining brings the UK in line with other countries calling for strong environmental protections.

“As we made clear in our report last month on the Arctic environment, melting sea ice opens up opportunities for mining critical minerals. But as a result of the risks to this precious and vulnerable environment, we called on the Government to back a moratorium to deep sea mining until we can properly determine its impact. I welcome this move today, which sends a clear message to the international community that we must not sacrifice the environment at any cost.”

Further Information

Image credit: UK Parliament