The probable imminent start of commercial activities to mine metals from the deep ocean floor prompted the European Commission to improve public knowledge on the issue and gauge public opinion.
Accordingly, in 2014 a public consultation was launched and a study undertaken. Whereas the study was limited to mining in deep water, the consultation also covered the already ongoing activity of extraction of sand and gravel and other materials from shallow water.
The study covers the current and latest state of knowledge of deep-sea mining, including the geological potential, the relevant technologies, the economic viability, the environmental implications, the legal regime, and an inventory of ongoing exploration and exploitation projects.
Representatives of public authorities, industry, researchers and civil society provided a wide variety of views on the different aspects of both shallow and deep water mining; on the need for it, on the way it should be done and on its impact. Nevertheless, a number of recommendations from all groups were similar: more research, increased transparency, tighter standards and better maps.
The Commission believes that the information and opinions provided in the study and the consultation provide a useful baseline for ongoing discussion, including the wider debate on ocean governance.