The International Seabed Authority will convene a workshop to determine the likely effects of exploration and mining of seafloor cobalt-rich crusts and polymetallic sulphides deposits on the marine environment. This workshop is to assist the Legal and Technical Commission, which recently submitted a draft exploration code for these resources to the Council, to issue guidelines for use by potential contractors in the establishment of environmental baselines for the purpose of evaluating the likely effects of exploration and subsequent mining activities of these mineral resources on the marine environment. The workshop is scheduled for 6 to 10 September 2004, at the Authority’s headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.
At the tenth session of the Authority, the Legal and Technical Commission submitted “Draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the Area” to the Council for its consideration at the eleventh session. Document ISBA/10/C/WP1 comprises 43 regulations and four annexes. Annex 1 is on “Notification of intention to engage in prospecting”, Annex 2 is on “Application for approval of a plan of work for exploration to obtain a contract”, Annex 3 “Contract for exploration”, and Annex 4 contains standard clauses for exploration contracts. Of the 43 regulations, nine are concerned with the protection and preservation of the marine environment from activities in the Area. These regulations are regulation 5 in Part II (Prospecting), regulations 20 and 22 in Part III (Applications for approval of plans of work for exploration in the form of contracts), regulations 33, 34, 35, 36 and 38 in Part V (Protection and preservation of the marine environment), and regulation 41 in Part VI (Confidentiality). Of these, regulation 33 (Protection and preservation of the marine environment), regulation 34 (Environmental baselines and monitoring) and regulation 41 (Recommendations for the guidance of contractors) are most pertinent to the workshops objectives.
To monitor any impacts which might occur as a result of exploration and mining for polymetallic sulphides and cobalt crusts it is essential that the technology to be used in exploration and subsequent exploitation operations is known. It is equally important that the initial environmental conditions are known and that they can be compared to the environment once commercial activity has commenced. To ensure various studies are comparable, the programme for establishing baseline data must be well designed and implemented. To carry this out, processes for collecting data must be established prior to any project commencing so that the data are robust. This workshop would allow scientists to meet and compare ideas to determine what is currently known about the relevant environments, what needs to be measured to monitor any impact as a consequence of exploration and mining activity, and how to measure any potential impact and gaps in the international community’s knowledge base that could benefit from collaborative work. In accordance with article 165 of the Convention, the results of the workshop will be transmitted to the Legal and Technical Commission for recommendations that it might make to the Council in this regard.
The purposes of the workshop are: to increase understanding of the potential impact of exploring for and mining these resources; to determine what is required for baseline studies; to ascertain the relevance of current or past research programmes; to design a monitoring programme to be carried out during exploration and mining of these resources; to determine any potential collaboration to reduce costs for potential contractors, and to propose guidelines to be submitted to LTC for establishing environmental baselines and for subsequent environmental monitoring.
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IMAX Presentation on Hydrothermal Vents. Professor Peter Rona, Institute of Marine & CoastalSciences, Rutgers University, USA
[Powerpoint] Draft regulations for prospecting and exploration of polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts produced by the LTC (ISBA/10/C/WP.1). Mr. Albert Hoffman, Chairman, LTC
[Powerpoint] Proposed exploration and mining technologies for polymetallic sulphides. Professor Steven Scott, Scotiabank Marine Geology Research Laboratory, Univ.of Toronto
[Powerpoint] Proposed exploration and mining technologies for cobalt-rich crusts. Dr Rahul Sharma, National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula, Goa, India
[Powerpoint] The physical environment of polymetallic sulphide deposits, the potential impact of exploration and mining on this environment, and data required to establish environmental baselines in exploration areas. Dr Andreas Thurnherr, Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, USA
[Powerpoint] The biological environment of polymetallic sulphide deposits, the potential impact of exploration and mining on this environment, and data required to establish environmental baselines in exploration areas. Professor Cindy Lee Van Dover, College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA
[Powerpoint] The Work of InterRidge and its potential relevance to the establishment of environmental baselines, including the voluntary code of conduct for scientific research at hydrothermal vents, and potential collaborations with the Authority. Professor Colin Devey, InterRidge / Leubniz‐Institut für Meereswissenschaften, IFM‐GEOMAR, Germany
[Powerpoint] ChEss, Biogeography of Chemosynthetic Ecosystems – The work of Census of Marine life and potential collaborations with the Authority. Dr Lúcia de Siqueira Campos, Census of Marine Life / Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
[Powerpoint] Other programmes of relevance to the establishment of baselines, to the development of appropriate databases and to an increased understanding of the natural variability of Polymetallic sulphides ecosystems. Dr Elva Escobar‐Briones, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar Y Limnologia. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
[Powerpoint] Benthic characteristics of the deep Indian Ocean. Dr Baban Ingole, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India
[Powerpoint] The chemical environment of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust deposits, the potential impact of exploration and mining on this environment, and data required to establish environmental baselines in the exploration areas. Professor Huai-Yang Zhou, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, People’s Republic of China
[Powerpoint] The biological environment of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust deposits, the potential impact of exploration and mining on this environment, and data required to establish environmental baselines. Dr. J. Anthony Koslow, CSIRO Marine Research, Australia
[Powerpoint] The proposed Census of marine Life seamounts project: towards a global baseline and synthesis of seamount community data – Its applicability in minimizing impacts from crusts mining and potential collaborations with the Authority. Dr Malcolm Clark, CoML / National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
[Powerpoint] Other programmes of relevance to the establishment of baselines, to the development of appropriate databases and to an increased understanding of the natural variability of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust ecosystems. Dr Tomohiko Fukushima, Ship and Ocean Foundation, Tokyo, Japan
[Powerpoint] Hydrothermal vents and associated polymetallic sulphide deposits in the Area with a special emphasis on the chemical environment. Professor Peter Herzig, Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, IFM-GEOMAR Germany
[Powerpoint] The physical environment of cobalt-rich ferromanganese crust deposits, the potential impact of exploration and mining on this environment, and data required to establish environmental baselines. Professor Aike Beckmann, Department of Physical Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
Exploration for and pre-feasibility of mining polymetallic sulphides; Mining on land vs seafloor: A case study. David Heydon, CEO of Nautilus Minerals