Oslo prepares first licensing round for seabed mining

9

Amid mounting domestic and international criticism, the Norwegian Ministry of Energy is starting preparations for a first licensing round on seabed minerals.

“The world needs minerals for the green transition, and the government wants to explore if it is possible to extract seabed minerals in a sustainable manner from the Norwegian continental shelf,” Energy Minister Terje Aslant says in a statement.

“Today, we are presenting our proposal for areas to be announced in the first licensing round for seabed minerals for public consultation. We plan to award licenses in the first half of 2025,” he explains.

The proposal includes large areas in the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea.

Norway is among the first countries in the world to open up for commercial seabed mineral mining.

The controversial mining is supported by a solid majority in the Storting, the Norwegian parliament. But environmentalists and international experts warn about potential devastating consequences.

“I am not proud of being part of the ‘sea nation Norway’ today,” says Truls Gulowsen, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.

“I believe researchers, environmentalists and the rest of the world looks strange at us,” he says in a comment on Facebook.

Also the Norwegian Sámi Parliament expresses opposition to the mining plans.

“For the Sámi and other Indigenous Peoples, the ocean is not just a resource, but a foundation of life, culture, and sustenance. The potential environmental degradation caused by deep sea mining could severely impact our food security, disrupt our traditional practices, and undermine our cultural heritage,” a statement from the Sami Council reads.

Also the EU is skeptical. Following Norway’s decision to greenlight seabed mining in early January 2024, the European Parliament voted in favour of a resolution against the plans.

With the resolution, the Parliament’s reaffirmed its support for a seabed mining moratorium and called on the EU Commission, Member States and all countries to apply a precautionary approach.