Deep Seabed Mining

Will nodule mining destroy our deep sea ecosystem services?

Will nodule mining destroy our deep sea ecosystem services?

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
First published Cook Islands News (29 May 2021),  updated here (29 May 2021)

In an article concerning the possibility of seabed nodule mining in the Cook Islands (Cook Islands News 27 March), Te Ipukarea Society wrote “We are confident that further research will show that the goods and services that the ocean provides humanity are actually worth many times more than what we will get from mining, and for a much longer term.”

In discussing this claim I will focus on deep sea services because with a precautionary approach to nodule mining the main impacts will be in the deep sea rather than the surface waters. The variety and global values of the main deep sea services are presented in the 2020 Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) circular: “Economic value of ecosystem services from the deep sea and the areas beyond national jurisdiction” (Ottaviani 2020). Although the circular is focused on the “areas beyond national jurisdiction” (ABNJ), or International Waters, it also includes the deep sea within “exclusive economic zones” (EEZs), which makes it inclusive of the Cook Islands polymetallic nodule fields. Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Deep Seabed Mining, Ecology, 0 comments
Cook Islands Seabed Minerals – the booklet

Cook Islands Seabed Minerals – the booklet

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
Booklet published 2016. Available here 28 April 2021

An oblique view of the seabed across the South Penrhyn Basin to the Manihiki Plateau.

The Trust’s booklet “Cook Islands Seabed Minerals – a precautionary approach to mining” was published in 2016 after three years of research.

The booklet provides baseline information on the environment and the possible impacts of a typical nodule mining scenario. The information should enable everyone to develop their own views and questions to participate in discussions.  And, in particular, to participate in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that will decide if mining can occur or not.

You can open it to read and download here:  The Trust’s Booklet

Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Deep Seabed Mining, Marine, 0 comments
Anonymous TIS criticism misguided

Anonymous TIS criticism misguided

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
First published CINews (24 Feb. 2021), updated.

An illustration comparing the area destroyed under the scenario of a 6-mine total industry, compared to the nodule-rich habitat at two different densities of nodules.

The following article answers Te Ipukarea Society (TIS) criticisms (CI News 20 February) of the author’s article on the possible impacts of seabed mining on nodule-associated benthic megafauna (CI News 11 February). The original article is here: https://cinature.org/2021/02/17/nodule-mining-impact-on-benthic-megafauna/

TIS calls for independent research and the information I quoted on the megafauna in the Central South Penrhyn Basin (SPB) was exactly that. The Japanese scientists were independent researchers. Although their megafauna and macrofauna surveys were very limited, it was fortunate they were focused on the Central Area of the SPB, which has the highest concentration of nodules and is where mining, if it occurs, will probably be focused. As a result, their survey of “0.000001% of our EEZ” is both relevant and useful. Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Deep Seabed Mining, Marine, 0 comments
Nodule mining impact on benthic megafauna

Nodule mining impact on benthic megafauna

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
First published CI News 11 Feb. 2021, last update 23 Mar. 2021.

Examples of sessile and slow-moving benthic megafauna in the South Penrhyn Basin (SPB).

This article discusses the likely impact of nodule mining on the megafauna associated with nodules in the South Penrhyn Basin (SPB), from Penrhyn southward to Aitutaki and Palmerston. This impact was not among those discussed in the Trust’s 2016 booklet: “Cook Islands Seabed Minerals – a precautionary approach to mining”.

Benthic megafauna is recorded by still photography and video because these animals are larger than four centimetres and they are all visible on or above the seabed. Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Animals, Deep Seabed Mining, Marine, 1 comment
Will Seabed Mining Increase Climate Change?

Will Seabed Mining Increase Climate Change?

Gerald McCormack, Natural Heritage Trust
First published CI News 26 Sept. 2019, modified 10 Feb. 2021.

South Penrhyn Basin nodules above the sediment

In July 2019, the Greenpeace report “In Deep Water” warned: “By impacting on natural processes that store carbon, deep sea mining could even make climate change worse by releasing carbon stored in deep sea sediments or disrupting the processes which ……. deliver it to those sediments. Deep sea sediments are known to be an important long-term store of ‘blue carbon’, the carbon that is naturally absorbed by marine life, a proportion of which is carried down to the sea floor as those creatures die.”

Continue reading →

Posted by Gerald in Climate Change, Deep Seabed Mining, 0 comments