Activists Condemn Deep-Sea Mining Effort by Defense Contractor Lockheed Martin

A leading conservation groupFriday’s alarm was sounded after Lockheed Martin, the military-industrial giant, filed an Anmeldek applicationWith the U.S. government, to renew licenses for deep seabed mining exploration in Pacific Ocean.

“Mining the deep sea is as destructive as strip mining the mountains of Appalachia, extinguishing whole ecosystems with a single blow,” Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), said In a statement. “The federal government shouldn’t renew these licenses.”

Although deep seabed mining is not currently commercially viable, the International Seabed Authority does. issued Exploration licenses for state-owned agencies and companies China, France and Germany, India, Japan and Russia as well as to private corporations such U.K. Seabed Resources (a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin).

Lockheed Martin’s licenses cover The Clarion-Clipperton Zone is located halfway between Mexico, Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean. The area is rich with polymetallic nodules, which could contain copper, nickel, cobalt and iron as well as rare earth elements.

According to According to some experts, deep-sea mineral extraction could be worth up to $1 trillion per year to the U.S. Economy.

CBD—which, through a 2015 lawsuit, forced the federal government to study the danger to ecosystems posed by such licenses—says deep seabed mining is fraught with risks.

The group said In a statement

The deep sea areas where mining contracts have been issued support some the most biodiverse, scientifically important ecosystems on Earth. Scientists are concerned that the practice could cause havoc in deepwater ecosystems. It could destroy life on the seabed and indirectly by creating sediment plumes, light pollution, noise and toxins that would impact life far beyond the actual mining sites.

“Before the Biden administration acts, it must take a hard look at this growing threat to the world’s oceans,” said Sakashita, who urged the federal government to “follow the lead of West Coast states and ban deep seabed mining.”

Washington and Oregon have already prohibited the practice. bill Introduced last month in the California state Legislature seeks to protect 2.500 miles of seafloor, mined.

“Our oceans support and preserve life on our planet and we cannot afford to leave our deep-sea floors vulnerable to exploitation and destruction,” the bill’s sponsor, state Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-39), said After the measure was introduced. “We can take swift action to prevent the devastation that seabed mining would inflict upon our delicate marine ecosystems and our coastal economies.”