Agreement reached on European Critical Raw Minerals Act (CRMA)
Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR), the deep-sea exploratory division of the DEME Group, welcomes the agreement of the European Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA).
Recognising the potential role of obtaining minerals from the seabed beneath the ultra-deep ocean to help meet demand, the agreement includes text about deep-sea mining that aligns with principles that are well established and fully supported by GSR.
In line with a precautionary approach, the agreement between EU governments and the European Parliament, reached in November, states that the European Commission “can only grant strategic status to a deep-sea mining project once the effects on the marine environment, biodiversity and human activities have been sufficiently researched, the risks are understood and technologies and operational practices are able to demonstrate that the environment is not seriously harmed”.
Kris Van Nijen, Managing Director of GSR, said: “We are delighted to see that the Critical Raw Materials Act recognises the potential role of seabed minerals and we are fully aligned that deep-sea mining can only occur if it is shown that it can be done responsibly”.
He added, “Deep-sea mining could have an important role to play in securing an adequate supply of critical minerals for the clean energy transition and ensuring Europe’s strategic independence.”
With the agreement on the CRMA, the EU recognises the strategic importance of minerals such as nickel, cobalt, manganese, and copper to meet its decarbonisation goals. It also acknowledges the geopolitical risks associated with such resources, as they are found in regions affected by armed conflict or where their extraction can cause major environmental damage.
Currently, most cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, while the primary source of nickel is Indonesian rainforests. Mineral processing and refining are presently dominated by China. Expanding and diversifying the supply of critical minerals is therefore a key enabler for the EU to meet its climate and development goals.
Demand for essential minerals is forecast to expand greatly in the coming decades, and meeting that demand will mean finding new sources of primary metals. For Europe, this includes opening new mines in Europe and establishing trade agreements with countries that adhere to responsible mining practices. Additionally, demand could be met through deep ocean mineral sources.
Preliminary evidence suggests that deep seabed mining may come to be considered as one of the more responsible ways of securing the minerals the planet needs to achieve climate and development goals.GSR is a Belgian company dedicated to the sustainable exploration of the deep seabed and safe collection of ocean minerals. Over the last 10 years, we have investigated 75k square kilometers of the seabed in the eastern part of the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Central Pacific Ocean. As a result, we collected invaluable data on the marine life and ocean soils, which will aid us in developing deep-sea mining practices that adhere to the highest environmental standards. Find out more on our website: deme-gsr.com
1. e.g. the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the rules, regulations, and procedures of the International Seabed Authority (including those still under development).
2. The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts a 21-fold increase in demand for cobalt and a 19-fold increase in demand for nickel by 2040 versus 2020.