Norwegian Parliament’s Tuesday vote for seabed mining in the Norwegian Sea has raised environmental concerns among many in the capital Oslo.
The decision allows prospectors to survey seabed deposits between Norway and Greenland, primarily above the Arctic Circle, within areas under Norway’s national jurisdiction. This decision aligns with the global surge in demand for metals crucial in manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.
Initially, the exploration will focus on gathering data about the quantity of metals in the seabed and potential impacts on aquatic life. Any subsequent industrial-scale seabed mining would necessitate parliamentary approval.
Norway joins a list of nations, including Japan, New Zealand, Namibia, and the Cook Islands, considering or advancing seabed mining. Simultaneously, the International Seabed Authority, a UN-affiliated agency, is drafting regulations that could permit seabed mining in international waters.
With a history of deriving wealth from the sea, initially through fishing and later offshore oil drilling, Norway aims to diversify its economy amid declining revenues from the oil industry. The Norwegian Ministry of Energy sees seabed mining as a potential new and vital marine industry.
However, critics, including marine biologists and groups like the World Wildlife Foundation, express concerns about potential risks to the seafloor ecosystem due to insufficient knowledge.