Deep sea mining could destroy ‘our last frontier’, environmentalists say

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As India readies for the United Nations to give a green light to deep sea mining and boost its economy, the environmental group Greenpeace said on Wednesday that drilling the seabed could cause irreversible harm and worsen climate change.

Without proper governance of the seas, mining could remove entire habitats and species, release toxins and create pollution in areas that have been undisturbed for millennia, it said.

“Deep sea mining could cause severe and potentially irreversible environmental harm both at the mine sites and throughout broader ocean areas,” Greenpeace said in a report.

“Opening up a new industrial frontier in the largest ecosystem on Earth and undermining an important carbon sink carries significant environmental risks ... Deep sea mining could even make climate change worse,” the report added.

A growing number of countries are eyeing the ocean floor as a source of wealth, scattered with vast beds of minerals key to making modern gadgets, from smartphones to solar panels.

But climate campaigners are worried about disrupting one of the last pristine areas of the planet and potentially putting species we barely understand at risk, as well as releasing planet-warming carbon dioxide.

India is investing heavily in underwater technology after winning four of 29 exploration licenses awarded by the UN’s
International Seabed Authority (ISA), which aims to agree rules on exploitation by 2020.