Interdisciplinary Assessment of Deep-Sea Mining Impacts: From Science to Policy and Implications for Sustainable Development

  • Marine mineral resources contain significant amounts of metals, which could, in the future, serve as raw materials for producing various goods. Proponents of deep-sea mining (DSM) point out that DSM may be preferable to terrestrial mining, as it would neither require the removal of vegetation or overburden nor the relocation of local communities. Opponents raise concerns about the industry’s expected environmental and social impacts. To close some knowledge gaps and to contribute to the holistic and interdisciplinary assessment of DSM, this thesis, firstly, investigates the environmental, social, economic, and legal impacts of DSM. It finds that DSM is a highly complex topic and that minimizing its adverse impacts requires intense interdisciplinary and integrated research. Secondly, this thesis quantified the fuel consumption and subsequent release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and air pollutants associated with a hypothetical manganese nodule mining operation. The assessment shows that the emissions may range between 82,600 - 482,000t CO2-equivalent (-eq.), 1,880 - 11,197t SO2-eq., and 1,390–8,734 t NOx-eq., respectively. The exact magnitude of emissions depends on factors such as engine loads, specific fuel oil consumption, and transport speed. The thesis also demonstrates that GHG emissions resulting from DSM in areas beyond national jurisdiction are not adequately regulated. Based on a criteria-based assessment, it recommends that the International Seabed Authority takes the lead in regulating and mitigating these emissions. Lastly, this thesis discussed to what extent deep-sea mining can contribute to reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It finds that DSM is incompatible with SDGs 12 and 14 but may be compatible with SDGs 2, 3, 10, 7, 13, provided that the minerals obtained are used to produce green technology and that strict regulations and a good governance strategy are in place to minimize the industry’s adverse impacts.

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Publishing Institution:IRC-Library, Information Resource Center der Jacobs University Bremen
Granting Institution:Jacobs Univ.
Author:Luise Heinrich
Referee:Andrea Koschinsky, Karen Smith Stegen, Till Markus, Hermann Kudrass
Advisor:Andrea Koschinsky
Persistent Identifier (URN):urn:nbn:de:gbv:579-opus-1009946
Document Type:PhD Thesis
Date of Successful Oral Defense:2021/07/09
Date of First Publication:2021/07/29
Academic Department:Physics & Earth Sciences
PhD Degree:Geosciences
Focus Area:Health
Call No:2021/8

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