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Greenpeace confronts a deep sea mining ship


November 22, 2022

Interview by Joe Wickins

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Greenpeace activists have confronted a deep sea mining ship off the coast of Manzanillo, Mexico.

Named ‘The Hidden Gem’, the ship is commissioned by Canadian miner The Metals Company, and had just returned from eight weeks of test mining in the Clarion Clipperton Zone between México and Hawaii. 

The Hidden Gem is one of the biggest vessels of its type in the world, and plans to mine around 3,600 tonnes of polymetallic nodules from the seafloor in a trial that could pave the way for full scale commercial mining. 

Greenpeace México activists confronted The Hidden Gem in kayaks holding ‘Stop Deep Sea Mining’ banners, while Greenpeace Aotearoa campaigner James Hita delivered a message to the captain of the Hidden Gem via radio.

“We are here today because deep sea mining threatens the health of the ocean and the lives and livelihoods of all who depend on it. The ocean is home to over 50% of life on Earth and one of our biggest allies in fighting the climate crisis. We will not stand by while mining companies begin to plunder the seafloor for profit,” says Hita. 

Aleira Lara, of Greenpeace México says “The Clarion Clipperton Zone, where The Metals Company is conducting mining tests, is close to México. If this industry begins, it could have very dangerous implications for our country and the marine ecosystems around us.” 

Lara also expressed her concern about how this practice would impact the planet.

“We are very concerned about this. The planet and communities are already suffering the consequences of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. We do not need a new extractive industry that would only make things worse. For us it is very important that our government sees these potential risks and positions itself as a regional and global leader against deep sea mining.” 

The digging and gauging of the ocean floor by machines can alter or destroy deep-sea habitats. This leads to the loss of species, many of which are found nowhere else, and the fragmentation or loss of ecosystem structure and function. It is the most direct impact from deep-sea mining and the damage caused is most likely permanent.

To date, the governments of Palau, Samoa, Fiji, Micronesia, Chile, and New Zealand have all declared backing for a moratorium. While Germany backs a ‘precautionary pause’ and French President Macron recently called for an outright ban at the latest session of COP27 in Egypt.


Public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air