Position Paper: The dangers of deep seabed mining and why African governments must support the call for a ban.

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Nautilus Minerals equipment for deep seabed mining
Nautilus Minerals equipment for deep seabed mining

Deep sea mining, also known as seabed mining, is the process of extracting valuable minerals and metals from the ocean floor. This practice has gained attention as a potential solution to meet the growing demand for resources such as rare earth elements, copper, nickel and cobalt. However, deep-sea mining poses significant threats to the ocean and its ecosystems, and it is essential that African governments represented by the African group at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) reject this practice and instead pursue sustainable alternatives.

One major concern with deep sea mining is the potential for damage to the ocean’s delicate ecosystems. These ecosystems, which are located in the abyssal plain, are home to a diverse array of unique and fragile species. The mining process, which involves the use of heavy machinery and explosives, can disrupt and destroy these habitats, leading to a decline in biodiversity. Research has shown that deep-sea mining can cause significant physical damage to the seabed, and can also lead to long-term changes in the composition of benthic communities, potentially leading to the extinction of species.

Another concern is the potential for pollution. The mining process can release large amounts of sediment and other pollutants into the water, which can have a detrimental effect on marine life and the overall health of the ocean. Additionally, the mining process can also release toxic substances, such as heavy metals, which can accumulate in the food chain and harm marine life. Studies have also shown that mining activities can release pollutants into the surrounding waters that can persist for years, and can affect the entire oceanic food web.

Deep sea mining also poses a significant risk to indigenous communities and local economies that depend on the ocean for their livelihoods. These communities, which are often located in coastal areas, rely on fishing, tourism, and other ocean-based activities for their survival. The disruption and destruction of the ocean’s ecosystems can have a devastating impact on these communities, leading to economic and social upheaval.

Given these concerns, it is crucial that African governments reject deep-sea mining and instead pursue sustainable alternatives. One such alternative is the use of recycled materials, which can reduce the demand for new resources and decrease the need for mining.

Another alternative is the development of clean energy technologies, which can reduce the demand for minerals and metals used in traditional fossil fuel-based energy production.

In conclusion, SOA Youth Hubs across Africa hold the view that deep-sea mining poses significant threats to the ocean and its ecosystems, as well as to indigenous communities and local economies.

We therefore call on African governments to reject this practice and instead call for the development of sustainable alternatives that prioritize the protection of the ocean and the well-being of communities.

A ban on deep sea mining is important to protect the ocean for the future generation.

By Gideon Sarpong | SOA Ghana Hub Lead

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