DeepGreen Metals Writes to Brands against Ban on Seafloor Minerals
DeepGreen Metals Inc, a developer of lower-impact battery metals from unattached seafloor polymetallic nodules, in an open letter to BMW, Volvo, Google
DeepGreen Metals Inc, a developer of lower-impact battery metals from unattached seafloor polymetallic nodules, in an open letter to BMW, Volvo, Google and Samsung SDI wrote that “At DeepGreen, we agree that seafloor minerals development should be approached cautiously and with an exacting commitment to science-based impact analysis and environmental protection. A precautionary approach has informed our strategy from the outset, including our mission to provide battery metals sourced from deep-ocean nodules that generate zero solid waste, no toxic tailings, and a fraction of the carbon emissions compared to land-based sources. Such environmental benefits can be achieved only through collecting polymetallic nodules, 4,000 meters deep on the abyssal plain where the abundance of life is up to 1,500 times less than in the vibrant ecosystems on land from where battery metals are currently sourced. Nodules lie unattached on the seafloor, and the extractive processes will not affect the integrity of the seafloor crust. This is different to other resource types that are the impetus for the moratorium being put forth by the World Wildlife Fund.
The letter sad “DeepGreen shares the goal of BMW, Volvo, Google, WWF and others for achieving a net-zero-emissions future while protecting the oceans and other ecosystems from climate change. Reducing emissions from the transportation sector and energy storage are key to protecting these ecosystems. The largest land-based deposits of nickel, the key ingredient in EV batteries, lie beneath bio diverse carbon-sequestering ecosystems in Indonesia and the Philippines. Consumer brands that refuse to consider alternative mineral supplies will be complicit in increased deforestation, toxic tailings, child labour in the case of cobalt and destruction of terrestrial habitats and carbon sinks. Polymetallic nodules, on the other hand, can deliver key battery metals with up to 90% less carbon emissions equivalent, with no child labour. In order to achieve electrification of the vehicle fleet without destroying terrestrial ecosystems, we need to explore creative solutions for the mineral supply chain including the responsible use of seabed minerals. Car companies like BMW and Volvo that are pledging to go all electric should focus sourcing decisions on actual indicators of impact and once they see the full data, they will most likely reconsider. Where exactly will BMW get the battery metals it needs to fully electrify its products, and with what impact to our climate? Will Volvo customers really prefer rainforest metals in their EVs once they realize their dire impacts on freshwater ecosystems, indigenous peoples, charismatic megafauna and carbon-storing forests?”
The letter added “While recycling will play an important role in meeting future demand, it is irresponsible for major companies to advance the notion that this will be sufficient for the transition to electric vehicles given the current lack of available material for recycling. We will need a massive injection of these metals to build up a sufficient stock if we are to stop extracting from the planet and enable a closed-loop economy. These considerations are important and warrant rich discussion and debate. Moreover, sourcing decisions should be based on research and data. A life cycle sustainability analysis on battery metals demonstrates that obtaining critical metals from ocean nodules has the least planetary impact in terms of biodiversity, carbon, ecosystem services and human communities. We believe the science is on our side, and that the consumers ultimately will be, too. Finally, the science that WWF is calling for is the same science we are doing. No extraction of ocean nodules can take place until rigorous, multi-year environmental impact studies are conducted, vetted, reviewed and approved. If this peer-reviewed science, which is a major contributor to society’s knowledge of the deep sea, shows that the risks outweigh the benefits, the global community through the International Seabed Authority, not WWF, can decide that extraction will not occur.”
DeepGreen concluded “DeepGreen stands ready to discuss responsible polymetallic nodule collection with innovative automakers like BMW and Volvo, as it’s clear that WWF has not shared with you the full picture. You will need to own the impacts of your growing battery supply chain, and we can walk you through the ESG data that define the trade-offs before us as we decarbonize the economy. We look forward to being part of the bright future promised by electrification, most recently in the context of US President Biden’s call for substantial investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, manufacturing, and the secure supply chains to support it.”