Marine and Polar

Deep Sea Mining

The sea below 200 meters depth accounts for 95% of the volume of the ocean, making it the largest habitat for life on Earth. It contains a wealth of unique and unusual species, habitats and ecosystems. The deep seabed also contains valuable mineral deposits and there is growing commercial interest in mining the ocean floor for these minerals. IUCN is working to ensure that before commercial deep sea mining commences, the environmental risks have been understood, the acceptable limits of impact are set and the monitoring, control and mitigation activities are in place.
Visual representation of deep sea mining

Underscoring its role as official observer to the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the organisation mandated to promote the development of the deep sea bed, IUCN released a report in July 2018 entitiled Deep seabed mining: A rising environmental challengeThis report serves to stimulate interest in the deep ocean and the discussions surrounding its potential development, with a specific focus on deep-sea mining of hard metal-bearing minerals. 

IUCN is working to provide the ISA with the knowledge and tools for biodiversity conservation in relation with deep-sea mining exploration authorizations processes, and input on the development of Environmental Regulations for deep seabed mining in the Area.

IUCN is also working with scientists to deliver insights on potential deep-sea mining impacts on microbial ecosytems and on deep ocean water column ecosystems.

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