Ongoing Development of Regulations on Exploitation of Mineral Resources in the Area

The Authority is in the process of developing Regulations for exploitation of mineral resources in the Area.  This will provide the necessary framework for regulating and managing exploration and exploitation of deep-sea activities in the Area in a sustainable manner, and contribute to the effective implementation of international law as reflected in UNCLOS. 

In March 2015, The Authority issued the following two consultation documents to members of the Authority and all stakeholders:

 Discussions on financial mechanisms were also held at a Workshop on Mineral Exploitation in the Area which was jointly coordinated by the Center for International Law of the National University of Singapore and the Authority in Singapore on 16-17 June 2015.

In July 2015, the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) provided a Draft Framework and Action Plan together with a summary of priority action areas to the Council for consideration. Council endorsed the LTC's list of priority deliverables on the development of the exploitation regulations over the following 12-18 months. The summary (ISBA/21/C/16)  of the priority deliverables is available in Annex III.

The Council has requested the LTC to consider, where relevant, the document submitted by the Netherlands (ISBA/21/C/13) on addressing serious harm to the marine environment, in the context of its work on developing the exploitation regulations.

The Council also called for broader stakeholder participation, including that of member States, to support and engage with the Authority so that specific views and opinions might be addressed at this stage of development and requested the LTC to continue its work on exploitation regulations as a matter of priority in 2016. 

The next step will be a zero draft of the regulations for exploitation, including standard contract terms to be considered by the LTC in February 2016. The initial draft will then be circulated to stakeholders in March 2016 and presented to the Council in July 2016.

In 2016, In the effort to support the development of an Exploitation Code, the Secretariat issued the following Discussion Papers:

  • Discussion Paper 1 : Dispute Resolution Considerations Arising Under the Proposed New Exploitation Regulations

  • Discussion Paper 2 : Data and Information Management Considerations Arising Under the Proposed New Exploitation Regulations

  • Discussion Paper 3 : Developing a Communications and Engagement Strategy for the International Seabed Authority to Ensure Active Stakeholder Participation in the Development of a Minerals Exploitation Code

  • Discussion Paper 4: Enforcement and Liability Challenges for Environmental Regulation of Deep Seabed Mining

  • Discussion Paper 5: The Implementation of the Precautionary Approach by the International Seabed Authority

In May 2016, two workshops directly related to the development of specific areas of the Exploitation Code were held, namely a payment mechanism and environmental assessment and management. The following reports are available:

  • Conference Report on the Deep Seabed Mining Payment Regime Workshop (San Diego, 17-18 May 2016)

  • Co-Chairs Report of Griffith Law School and the International Seabed Authority Workshop on Environmental Assessment and Management for Exploitation of Minerals in the Area (Surfer’s Paradise, 23-26 May 2016)

  • Report | Workshop on Enhancing Stakeholder Participation and Transparency in the ISA Process, (Ocho Rios, Jamaica, 16 July 2016)

In July 2016, the Commission issued a first working draft of exploitation regulations to Members of the Authority and all stakeholders for comments emailed to by a 2 November 2016 deadline. This deadline was then extended to 25 November 2016.