WWF takes Norway to court over deep sea mining


The World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) branch in Norway said on Thursday it was taking legal action against that country after it opened its seabed to mining before proper impact studies had been carried out.

Norway, already western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer, could become one of the first countries to approve seabed mining, arguing it is important not to have to rely on China or other authoritarian countries for minerals essential to renewable technology .

Although deep-sea mining is controversial due to the potential impact on vulnerable marine ecosystems, in January Norway’s parliament formally gave the green light to open parts of its seabed to mining.

“Norway’s decision to continue making large areas of the ocean available for destructive mining is an unprecedented management scandal,” Karoline Andaur, CEO of WWF Norway, said in a statement. “Never before have we seen a Norwegian government so arrogantly ignore all scientific advice and the warnings of a united marine research community.”

According to the WWF, the impact studies carried out by Norway’s Ministry of Energy do not meet the criteria required by Norwegian legislation.

During public hearings, the Norwegian Environment Agency – a state agency – came to the same conclusion and said there is “comprehensive lack of knowledge about the impact on nature, technology and environment”.

Several countries, including France and the United Kingdom, have requested a moratorium on deep-sea mining. The European Parliament also expressed concern after Norway’s decision to proceed.

Meanwhile, Oslo maintains that it can determine through permission for exploitation whether undersea mining can continue without a serious impact on the environment, otherwise authorization will not be given.

“We believe that a thorough process with broad involvement was carried out, and that the appropriate requirements were followed,” Astrid Bergmal, State Secretary in Norway’s Ministry of Energy, said in an email to AFP on Thursday.

The ministry announced on April 12 that it is opening an area of ​​the Norwegian Sea and the sea around Greenland for exploitation with the aim of awarding the first licenses in the first half of 2025.

The Norwegian Seaward Directorate published a report in early 2023 which determined that “extensive resources can be found on the seabed”, including minerals such as copper, zinc and cobalt. Among other things, it is essential for the production of batteries, wind turbines, computers and mobile phones.