Greenpeace has documented signs of significant disturbance from deep sea mining tests in the Pacific Ocean. New images reveal a large patch of sediment rising to the surface of the water after equipment tests carried out by mining company Global Sea Mineral Resources, which is aiming to commercially extract minerals from the seabed in the future.
GSR is deploying a prototype mining machine approximately 4500 metres deep in the Clarion Clipperton Zone, an area between Mexico and Hawaii. Deep-sea biologist from Greenpeace International on board the Rainbow Warrior Dr Sandra Schoettner said “We took action because even at the testing stage, mining companies are now impacting one of the most remote and least known environments on Earth.
We have witnessed this heavy gear being submerged repeatedly into the water and coming back up surrounded by a large cloud of sediment after the machine worked on the seabed. This indicates that a significant disturbance at the bottom of the ocean is occurring.
Corporations want to start full-scale mining of the seabed in the next few years, but what we’re witnessing now at the test stage is a stark warning of what could happen if these companies are allowed to plunder the seabed’. As part of humankind’s common heritage, the deep sea must remain off-limits to the mining industry.”
Scientists have already warned that the discharge of smothering and potentially toxic plumes into the water column from deep sea mining, spreading water containing suspended particles, could impact a far greater range of ocean species beyond deep sea creatures and could travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometres.
Early this year, during a stakeholder meeting, GSR announced that a high-resolution camera would be deployed in order to carry out visual observations during their tests in the Pacific.