Deep Sea EV Metals Mining Firm in Greenpeace Clash

Greenpeace Face UN ban after disrupting research trip by The Metals Company, who mine battery-grade metals from rocks on sea bed

A company mining for metals for use in electric vehicles is locked in a battle with environmental activist group Greenpeace over multi-billion dollar deposits of metals at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The Metals Company produces metals from polymetallic rocks to power electric vehicles. Polymetallic rocks are those that contain a combination of different metals.

For a decade, the company has been exploring the largest known deposit of battery-grade metals: nodules on the seafloor of the Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. The Zone is an environmental management area of the Pacific Ocean that contains geological submarine fracture zones.

The Metals Company uses a method to derive key battery-grade metals from these rocks while, it claims, “generating zero solid processing waste”.

The company says Greenpeace activists disrupted a recent research expedition when they boarded its vessel in the Pacific.

As a result, the campaign group faces being ejected from the UN body that oversees plans to exploit deep sea deposits of metals.

Member states of the UN's International Seabed Association (ISA) are set to vote on stripping Greenpeace of its observer status within the group. 

The Metals Company seeks battery metals on sea bed

The Metals Company points out that the research interrupted by Greenpeace had been requested by the ISA as part of an impact assessment.

Greenpeace contends that deep-sea mining will damage one of the few remaining ecosystems on Earth untouched by humanity. For its part, The Metals Company says Greenpeace is “anti-science”.

The deep-sea metals have built up over tens of millions of years into fist-sized lumps, known as polymetallic nodules. Mining companies point out that the copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese they contain are crucial battery metals.

The International Energy Agency forecasts that demand for these metals will rocket as the world transitions towards a low-carbon economy.

The Metals Company’s team comprises scientists, environmentalists, engineers, architects, and business leaders who, it says, “see the climate crisis as the biggest challenge of our time”. 

On its LinkedIn company page The Metals Company also says that EVs and renewable energy are “a key part of the sustainability solution”, but that scaling these technologies will require hundreds of millions of tons of new metals. 

“Polymetallic nodules represent the cleanest source of battery grade metals on the planet and the best path forward,” it adds.

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