…and activists targeted by overbearing hotel security guards.
deep sea mining protest
Citizens concerned about the risks of deep sea mining leafleted participants in the Deep Sea Mining Industry Summit for an hour this morning outside the Cumberland Hotel, near Marble Arch in London, while participants were arriving to register for the summit.
The leaflets stated that deep sea mining will be made redundant due its negative environmental and social costs in contrast to an emerging and lucrative alternative – the “urban mining” of metals from electronic waste.
Richard Solly of the London Mining Network said, “We are highlighting to summit participants the risks of investing in this ‘frontier’ industry – not only is there strong opposition from civil society where ever its been proposed but its viability is highly questionable once the economic, environmental and social costs are weighed up.”
“A precautionary approach on environmental as well as economic grounds would demand a moratorium on this industry until the risks are assessed and analysed. We are still waiting to see a comprehensive risk analysis of deep sea mining”
Companies and governments from around the world have been rushing to explore and exploit minerals found in and on the seabed, such as gold, copper, manganese, cobalt and rare earths. Over 1.5 million square km of the Pacific Ocean is currently under exploration licence to to private and national companies within both territorial and international waters.[1] There are currently 17 exploration contracts for the seabed that lies beyond national jurisdiction in the deep seas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. There is also significant exploration interest within national waters, particularly in the Pacific Ocean.
Natalie Lowrey of the Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “As a new form of mining there are many uncertainties about deep sea mining due to the lack of practical experience of the technologies and to the lack of knowledge about the unique properties of the ecosystems at the sites being mined.”
“Serious concerns have also been raised about the potential for heavy metals entering marine food chains with serious consequences for the health of coastal communities.”[2]
$21 billion of silver and gold locked away in e-products each year and electronic waste contains precious metal “deposits” 40 to 50 times richer than ores mine.[3] Australian scientists have found that 1 tonne of old mobile phones contain about 100 kilograms of copper, three kilos of silver and 200 grams of gold.[4]
According to Ms Lowrey, “Australian researchers have demonstrated that “urban mining” of e-waste will become a reality over the next decade – a similar time frame to the operationalisation of deep sea mining.”   “Urban mining will be more lucrative than deep sea mining and will deal with an otherwise intractable waste problem in a much more responsible manner.”
“The expense and risks of deep sea mining cannot be justified while there is a profitable, socially and environmentally beneficial alternative to satisfy society’s needs for the same metals.”
After nearly an hour of peacefully handing out leaflets on the public pavement outside the Cumberland Hotel, the activists were preparing to leave when one activist was told by hotel security staff that he had to move to the other side of the street or he would call the police. The security officer said that the activists were not allowed to hand out leaflets on the public pavement as it was upsetting people.
A similarly absurd allegation was made in December 2011 by security personnel at the Islington Business Design Centre in London when indigenous Saami reindeer herders were standing on a public pavement and handing our leaflets to participants arriving at the Mines and Money Conference. Police were called – and they confirmed that the Saami were acting wholly legally.
Activists plan further leafleting tomorrow morning.
For more information:
Richard Solly, London Mining Network 07903 851695, richardsolly@gn.apc.org Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea mining campaign (Australia), +61 421 226 200, natalie.lowrey@gmail.com
[1] Britain uses the world’s largest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to join the rush to plunder the deep seas in the Pacific, various news articles posted on Deep Sea Mining campaign website, March 15 2013,  http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/britain-uses-the-worlds-largest-defense-contractor-to-join-the-rush-to-plunder-the-deep-seas-in-the-pacific/
[2] The Deep Sea mining campaign have produced two reviews by independent scientists highlighting the flaws in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project. Out of Our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in papua New Guinea, produced in November 2011, details serious environmental and social impacts expected as a result of unprecedented mining of the ocean floor in PNG. It highlights the deep flaws in Nautilus Minerals EIS like the insufficient testing by the company in the toxicity of its process on vent species, and has not sufficiently considered toxic effects on organisms in the marine food chain. The second report produced in November 2012, Physical Oceanographic Assessment of the Nautilus Environmental Impact Statement for the Solwara 1 Project – An Independent Review, authored by oceanographic expert, Dr. John Luick, reviews the oceanographic elements of the Nautilus Solwara 1 EIS. Its focus is on currents and upwelling that may bring pollutants into contact with local populations and marine species. At only 30km away New Ireland is especially at risk, with the possibility of upwelling and currents carrying mine-derived metals towards its coastline. The report finds that the EIS seriously downplays the risks facing local communities and the marine environment. Both reports can be viewed and downloaded here:  http://deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/report/
[3] United Nations University Press Release: ‘E-waste: Annual Gold, Silver “Deposits” in New High-Tech Goods Worth $21 Billion+; Less Than 15% Recovered’, July 9 2012, http://unu.edu/news/releases/step-news-release-6-july-2012-e-waste-precious-metals-recovery.html
[4] ‘Urban mining study to help develop an e-waste recycling industry’, ABC News, The World Today, June 13 2013 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-13/urban-mining-study-to-help-develop-an-e-waste/4751822?section=sa