Canadian activists call for global moratorium on deep sea mining

A demonstration calling for a global moratorium in deep sea mining was held in early February outside the fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPACS) in Vancouver, Canada.

IMPACS is described by participants as an opportunity for the global community of marine conservation managers and practitioners to exchange knowledge, experience and best practices to strengthen the conservation of marine biodiversity and to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the ocean.

The congresses are a collaborative effort between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the chosen host country. Past IMPACS have taken place in Geelong, Australia in 2005; Washington state in 2009; Marseille, France in 2013; and La Serena, Chile in 2017.

The demonstration last Saturday held by Indigenous peoples and others from Canada and other nations focused on The Metals Company, founded in 2021 through the merger of DeepGreen and the Sustainable Opportunities Acquisition Corp. to scale their nodule collecting and onshore processing systems.

The firm produces metals from polymetallic rocks to power electric vehicles and has been exploring the planet’s largest known deposit of battery-grade metals: nodules on the seafloor of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. The Clarion-Clipperton Zone is a geological submarine fracture zone spanning 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico, which is administered by the International Seabed Authority. The Seabed Authority estimates that the total amount of nodules in that zone exceed 21 billion tons containing manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt.

Polymetallic nodules, also known as manganese nodules, are composed of iron and manganese oxides. Mining of polymetallic nodules has been spurred by the need for critical metals to support growing populations high technology applications and development of a green-energy economy.


A request for Canada to support a global moratorium on deep-sea mining in international waters, and a moratorium or ban on mining in Canada’s territorial waters, has been backed by total of 38 national and international organizations and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an entity of over 100 organizations committed to protecting the deep sea.

Deep sea mining opponents contend that the deep sea is the largest biome, or living space, on the planet — a fragile environment that provides significant cultural value globally and supports commercially important fish populations.