Automakers BMW, Volvo back moratorium on deep seabed mining

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 17, 2019 file photo, a worker cleans an electric vehicle at the BMW booth during the Auto Shanghai 2019 show in Shanghai. Automakers BMW and Volvo announced Wednesday, March 31, 2021 that they support a moratorium on deep sea mining for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries. The call was also backed by Samsungs EV battery unit and tech giant Google. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, file)
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 17, 2019 file photo, a worker cleans an electric vehicle at the BMW booth during the Auto Shanghai 2019 show in Shanghai. Automakers BMW and Volvo announced Wednesday, March 31, 2021 that they support a moratorium on deep sea mining for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries. The call was also backed by Samsungs EV battery unit and tech giant Google. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, file) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BERLIN – Automakers BMW and Volvo announced Wednesday that they support a moratorium on deep seabed mining for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries and other products.

In a statement also backed by Samsung’s EV battery unit and tech giant Google, the companies cited the importance of protecting fragile ocean ecosystems that are already under threat from overfishing, pollution, noise and man-made climate change.

While deep seabed mining is still in its infancy, several prospecting firms are seeking rights to extract potentially lucrative deposits from the depths of the ocean, particularly the metallic nodules that build up around hydrothermal vents.

“Before any potential deep seabed mining occurs, it needs to be clearly demonstrated that such activities can be managed in a way that ensures the effective protection of the marine environment,” the four companies said in their statement.

“All alternatives to deep sea minerals must be explored as a matter of urgency, with a focus on reducing demand for primary metals, transitioning to a resource-efficient, closed-loop materials economy, and developing responsible terrestrial mining practices,” they said.

The companies said they were committed “not to source minerals from the deep seabed; to exclude such minerals from our supply chains; and not to finance deep seabed mining activities.”

The call was supported by the environmental group World Wildlife Fund, which has campaigned against deep seabed mining.

“We need to take pressures off the ocean, not add additional pressures to it in order to guarantee that the ocean can provide services to humanity, such as climate regulation, food and medicines, into the future,” said Jessica Battle, who heads the WWF campaign against deep seabed mining.