MININGIMPACT2: Environmental Impact and risks of deep-sea mining
The MiningImpact2 project gathers 32 partners from 10 different countries and will conduct an independent scientific monitoring of the impact of an industrial test to harvest manganese nodules in the Clarion Clipperton Zone.
This MiningImpact project will follow up on the results of the first JPI Oceans supported Pilot Action which terminated in late December 2017. While the initial project investigated experimental and rather small disturbances of the seafloor over decadal timescales, the new project will set up a comprehensive monitoring programme to ensure an independent scientific investigation of the environmental impacts of an industrial component trial of a nodule collector system by the Belgian contractor DEME-GSR. Polymetallic nodules are mainly composed of manganese and iron oxides, but also contain economically valuable metals, such as nickel, copper, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth elements.
The DEME-GSR collector test intends to harvest nodules in approx. 0.1 km2 large areas of the seabed in the Belgian and the German contract areas of the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Eastern Equatorial Pacific Ocean. Within the lifetime of MiningImpact researchers are planning two cruises (in 2019 and 2021) to the test areas in order to constrain the spatial and temporal dynamics of the sediment plume created by the mining test and impact on the abyssal environment.
The project will further study regional connectivity of species in the deep-sea and their resilience to impacts, and the integrated effects on ecosystem functions, such as the benthic food-web and biogeochemical processes.
In this context, key objectives of the project are:
- To develop and test monitoring concepts and strategies for deep-sea mining operations
- To develop standardization procedures for monitoring and definitions for indicators of a good environmental status
- To investigate potential mitigation measures, such as spatial management plans of mining operations and means to facilitate ecosystem recovery
- To develop sound methodologies to assess the environmental risks and estimate benefits, costs and risks
- To explore how uncertainties in the knowledge of impacts can be implemented into appropriate regulatory frameworks
MiningImpact will be able to further close existing knowledge gaps and reduce uncertainties on the environmental impacts of deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules. The project will specifically work towards policy recommendations and has reached out to the International Seabed Authority to become a partner in the project. It will further contribute to the preparation of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for future European deep-sea pilot mining tests that are requested by the ISA, and to the Horizon2020 technology development projects Blue Atlantis and Blue Nodules.