Thank you for writing to me about deep sea mining.
The UK has agreed not to support the issuing of any exploitation licences for deep-sea mining projects unless there is sufficient evidence about the potential impacts on deep-sea ecosystems. The UK’s approach to deep sea mining is precautionary and conditional. The Government is fully engaged in negotiations underway at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and will work closely with partners to ensure the highest environmental standards are embedded in the Regulatory framework of the ISA.
As the UK is taking a cautious approach towards the impact of deep-sea mining, the Government has commissioned an independent evidence review into the potential risks and benefits of deep-sea mining, which was conducted by the British Geological Survey, the National Oceanography Centre as well as the Heriot-Watt University and was published in October 2022.
Through the UK’s sponsorship of academic research and existing exploration licences, over 70 peer-reviewed publications supporting a greater understanding of environmental issues associated with deep-sea mining have been produced. The Government is also partially funding the SMARTEX project on seabed mining and resilience to experimental impact, which aims to build a better understanding of the ecosystem in the Pacific abyss.
Lastly, the Government has clarified it would engage in public consultation ahead of issuing any UK-sponsored deep sea mining exploitation licence.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking