Deep-sea minerals could meet the demands of battery supply chains – but should they?
Deep-sea mining has attracted controversy due to concerns of potential damage to delicate ecosystems before scientists have had chance to assess what is at stake.
A Value Chain Dialogue on Deep-Sea Minerals
What questions are being asked about this potential new source and what are the possible implications for responsible sourcing?
The world seeks minerals for industrial development, for economic growth and to drive the green transition. The deep-sea could help to provide some of these minerals, but should it?
Proponents of deep-sea mining point to its potential benefits, compared with conventional mining. It could relieve pressure to mine virgin sites on land, it may offer less carbon-intensive extraction and it could provide much-needed income for economically vulnerable island nations.
On the other hand, scientists have voiced deep concern for the rich, poorly-understood biodiversity of the world’s pristine seafloors. A solution to humankind’s short-term supply problems could cause destruction that spans millennia.
Minerals from the deep-sea could enter supply chains within a decade. Downstream metal value chain companies are uniquely placed to weigh stakeholder views on deep-sea mining, balancing input from seabed mining companies, national and international authorities, civil society, scientists and the public, with their own commercial and reputational considerations. They have done so – in the context of mining on land – for many years.
Only with broad and diverse participation can we ensure that the decisions taken will be the wisest for humankind and planet Earth.
The Deep-Sea Minerals Dialogue is an impartial space for value chain dialogue on the responsible sourcing considerations for the potential emergence of minerals from the deep seabed.
We are working to:
1. Inform downstream businesses and alert them to why this topic is important, their “stake” and what their opportunity to engage is
2. Provide a platform for these downstream businesses to formulate an action plan and engage on the topic
Please contact DSMdialogue@weforum.org to get involved if you are a downstream business (manufacturers of battery, EV, electronics and renewable energy generation, and the metal markets that supply these metals) interested in understanding how this topic may affect your responsible sourcing and in engaging with it safely.