At least one company has likened each noodle to a battery in a rock because of the impressive array of metals they contain. That’s why in the last decade, companies have started exploring the possibility of commercial mining in the deep sea, especially in the Clarion-Clipperton zone.
But not everyone is on this use of the ocean, because there is a lot of life in and around these nodule fields, From corals and sea cucumbers to worms and dumbo octopuses, not to mention tiny creatures we’ve never seen before. Scientists have raised questions about what will happen when the mining begins to sediment: Plas could disturb wildlife and even natural carbon stores beneath the seafloor.
Global water management is a complex business. There is a United Nations body responsible for deep-sea mining called the International Maritime Authority (ISA), which was established in 1994 and is based in Jamaica. The ISA has been developing mining code for commercial operations, but some companies want things to go ahead.
A process called the two-year rule has been put in place to address this situation: at any time before regulations are issued, a member state has the power to notify the ISA that it intends to start mining, and the ISA then has two years. To issue regulations.
Nauru, a small island in Micronesia, triggered the two-year rule two years ago, so the deadline is July 9, 2023. But the ISA’s next meeting, where it can finalize rules, starts on July 10, so that’s the deadline.