Deep Sea Mining, Part 4: The Eco-centric Response

In our in-depth 4-part series, we explore the implications of deep-sea mining: where the drive to mine our ocean depths is coming from, what those effects are, what areas of the ocean are being explored, and where to go from here.

(See list of all articles below.)

Where To From Here?

In our previous piece, we discussed which parts of our oceans are currently planned for deep-sea mining, who is ultimately responsible and why the drive is so high to commence full-force mining at sea-floor depths.

As we’ve clarified throughout this series, it’s sadly obvious that deep-sea mining equates to planetary destruction. Yet in the face of this, mining organisations and nation-states continue to forge ahead with plans to implement full mining activities, even within just two years from now.

Massive machinery used for deep sea mining
Image credit: dsmobserver.com

Thankfully, however, there is also some major player opposition to this form of mining, with some organisations vowing not to utilise deep-sea mining materials in production.

In an outright challenge to the industry’s spin, global companies BMW, Volvo, Google and Samsung are leading a business call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

BMW, Volvo and Google will not buy any metals produced from deep-sea mining before the environmental risks are “comprehensively understood,” in a setback to companies that plan to mine the deep ocean this decade.

The companies, along with Korean battery maker Samsung SDI, said they would exclude any deep-sea minerals from their supply chains and also not finance any deep-sea mining companies.

Exploring solutions requires a detailed investigation, one that is beyond the scope of what we can cover here. So let’s just say that for a planet-positive, future-of-life-for-our-species outcome, we must fundamentally adjust our ways of thinking, our expectations, and our lifestyles.

Astronaut walks over deserted landscape with single tree

We need a total about-face in how we perceive our world, our resources, and how we interact with each other and our environment. This is no mean feat. Essentially we must change both the way we think and what we want.

A short-term solution clearly won’t suffice either, but as we discovered in the previous article in this series, we actually don’t have much time.

The Eco-centric Response

Here are some ideas of how we can turn our potential disaster zone back into an eco-centric haven for humanity and our fellow species:

  • increase widespread public awareness of the pitfalls of unquestioned, exploitative, extractivist thinking
  • increase understanding through comprehensive research into deep-sea ecosystems
  • publish high-quality and honest environmental impact assessments (EIAs) (and have these stored on a blockchain so that the data cannot be manipulated)
  • research mitigation techniques to alleviate damage already done
  • require and ensure restoration of areas that have already been negatively impacted
  • reduce demand for deep-sea mineral deposits by recycling and reusing products such as smartphones
  • research meaningfully ‘clean energy technologies’ like electric cars and solar panels, and readdress what alternative energy sources and materials could be used
  • regulate all extractive activity in the deep sea: for overfishing, fossil fuels, metals, and minerals
  • designate deep-sea areas as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
  • recycle scrap metals from technological developments for further varied uses
  • reduce overall consumption of metals
  • *improve land mining practices – regenerative practices, chemical-free processing, and fair labour contracts
  • educate and advocate broadly for a recycling-oriented mentality with an emphasis on circular economies that eliminate waste (reuse, share, repair, refurbish, and recycle materials, obviating the need for continuous extraction of resources)
  • “cradle to cradle” product design and biomimicry – imitating systems in nature to solve human problems – using regenerative processes that restore, renew, and revitalise their own sources of energy) rather than planned obsolescence and endless replacement with the ‘new and improved’
  • an energy future that is fair for all humans, and the planet

Joe Brewer, author of the upcoming The Design Pathway for Regenerating Earth, makes the contentious yet straightforward assertion that the human population will need to ‘drop significantly’. He urges us to address the entire spectrum of our current greed-based commercial economy, which he says ‘must collapse and be replaced by bioregional economies’:

The globalized economy is totally screwed… and has had the seeds of its own self-created destruction built in from day one. This is to be completely expected. Whether or not humans go extinct from this, depends on those of us who can see beyond the collapse and plant cultural seeds for regenerative economies to be born from the compost of civilization.”

There’s no time to waste in fluffy marketing around sustainable mining practices that misrepresent the actual destruction and certain species’ suicide they will ultimately cause. Meaningful action to effect lasting, Earth-friendly, and humane change that makes space for all life, is what we need.

We lose the oceans, we lose everything.
A pile of rubbish suspended in water showing the stomach contents of a sea turtle
Stomach contents of a sea turtle. Image credit time.com

Miner Network founder and CEO Christian Goodell comments on the near breaking point where we find ourselves on this planet, and how we can’t afford to keep making new policies and brainstorming more ideas. Time is running out, and we must be mindful of where we are right now.

“We’re at an inflection point in quite a number of different ways, including environmental. And we need to be serious about it.

“The Miner Network is extremely serious about it. We’re not: ‘Oh, we’re going to make billions of dollars and save the world.’ We’re like: ‘Well, we don’t even want the billions of dollars… This is not what it’s about.”

~ Christian Goodell, CEO and founder of The Miner Network

Beyond Sustain-O-Babble: Serious and Responsible

With its serious and responsible mining pledge, The Miner Network invites other organisations to join us in cleaning up the dirtiest business in the world – mining. (Well, one of them, anyway.)

*  *  *

The Miner Network is Changing the Face of Mining

With the clear intention to improve existing land-based mining practices—via regenerative processes, chemical-free processing, and fair labour contracts and working conditions— Miner is changing the face of mining.

Regenerative Mining Practises
Regenerative mining practises

Here are some of the proposed ways how:

  • Pre-Existing Mine Sites

Miner prefers to mine pre-existing mine sites rather than open new ones.

  • Waste Piles From Old Mines

Miner is developing technologies and facilities to mine the waste piles from old mines, thereby extracting gold and cleaning up the toxicity of previous mining operations.

  • Advanced Exploration Technology

Miner uses advanced exploration technologies to pinpoint gold before digging and then only dig once (instead of digging around until gold is found, which is, unfortunately, an all-too-common practice at great expense to our ecosystems).

  • No Chemical Contamination

We process our gold with zero cyanide, mercury or chemical contamination of the environment, with mercury-free sorting. We also maintain zero contaminated wastewater discharge into waterways. Our mining operations recycle the water they use, rather than discharging it. And if we discharge water at all, we filter it first.

  • Mine Site Restoration

We clean up exhausted mine sites using regenerative practices, nourish and replant brownfields, restore vegetation, and give back to the Earth.

  • Environmental Accountability

Environmental accountability means a mining organisation undertakes a meaningful obligation to minimise the impacts of its production on human and ecological health.

  • Walking the Walk

The Miner Network is an organisation doing its best to walk the walk and effectively build bridges from old ways to new. It is an organisation that aims to inspire positive action and invites its colleagues in industry across the world to do the same.

  • Environmental Health and Planet-wide Well-Being

Gold mining companies are increasingly facing pressure to ‘clean up their act’ and present meaningful and impactful options in terms of universal human rights, environmental health, and planet-wide well-being.

Collaborate with us to begin a mining narrative that transcends the exploitative thinking that brought us to this teetering precipice. Let’s find our way together to a new (and ancient) paradigm—what author and activist John Perkins calls “moving away from a Death Economy to a Life Economy.” It can be done.

We invite leaders across the global mining industry to join us in proactively taking mature steps towards planet preservation.

JOIN The Miner Network mailing list and stay informed of the upcoming launch of MINER token.

~ Abheeti Kathryn Pass

Here are the previous installments in the series:

Deep-Sea Mining, Part 1: A Shining Example of Misguided Human Ingenuity

Metal-Minded Humans’ Drive for More

 

Deep Sea Mining, Part 2: The Next Frontier, or the Ultimate Suicide Mission?

Mining Effects on Ecosystems and the Earth

 

Deep Sea Mining, Part 3: Awash in Sustainability-Speak 

The Where, The Who, The Why