TMC Comments on ISA Council Decision and Intention to Deliver Final Rules, Regulations, and Procedures for Exploitation
TMC the metals company Inc., an explorer of the world’s largest estimated undeveloped source of critical battery metals, applauded the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council’s consensus decision agreeing a roadmap towards adopting final rules, regulations, and procedures (RRPs, also known as the Mining Code) to allow for the exploitation of seafloor resources, in a major step toward regulatory certainty.
After failing to adopt the Mining Code by July 9, 2023, last Friday the ISA Council concluded part two of the twenty-eighth session with a decision to continue the elaboration of the Mining Code during formal sessions in November 2023, March 2024 and July 2024 and informal intersessional working groups.
“It is now a question of when—rather than if—commercial-scale nodule collection will begin,” said TMC Chairman and CEO Gerard Barron. “Since June 2022, under strong pressure from global NGOs, seventeen ISA Member States representing a minority of the 169 ISA Members have formally supported a precautionary pause, moratorium, or a ban on deep sea mining. While the legal obligations of Member States to adopt RRPs pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Part XI Implementation Agreement (the Agreement) remain unchanged, these actions introduced a degree of political uncertainty around the timing of the adoption of the Mining Code. Last Friday’s consensus decision that included Member States who have called for a precautionary pause is a hard-won compromise that reduces this uncertainty. We are obviously disappointed that the ISA failed to adopt RRPs by 9 July 2023 as we hoped two years ago. But we also recognize that the vast majority of Member States worked very hard in the last 24 months and demonstrated strong continued commitment to finalizing the Mining Code through increased number of formal sessions and twelve informal intersessional working groups. I believe the finish line is now within sight and we look forward to the consolidated regulatory text at the next meeting in November 2023.”
TMC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), reiterated its preference to submit an application for a plan of work for exploitation once these RRPs are in place. However, consistent with NORI’s sponsoring state Nauru's rights under UNCLOS, and as was reaffirmed in Friday’s decision, NORI reserves its right to submit an application for a plan of work in the absence of the adoption of the RRP’s pursuant to Section 1, Paragraph 15 of the Annex to the Agreement.
NORI will continue to work tirelessly to complete a comprehensive, science-driven environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) of the highest quality. As evidenced by the recent submission of data and with significantly more environmental data to be submitted this year, the Company believes this information will further strengthen the case that the impacts of nodule collection can be effectively understood, mitigated and managed and will make a conclusive case why collecting polymetallic nodules to produce energy transition metals is the right thing to do, especially when compared to sourcing these metals by continuing to destroy megadiverse terrestrial ecosystems and communities which depend on them.
TMC Chairman and CEO Gerard Barron, added: “We want to sincerely thank our sponsoring states for their continued support and the ISA Council for its hard work and further commitment to fulfil its legal obligation and adopt all RRPs for the responsible exploitation of seafloor resources.”