BMW, Volvo join hands to save oceans; support a moratorium on deep-sea mining

  • Several vital minerals that can be used in electric vehicle batteries are found on deep seabed.
Deep-sea mining can bring a lot of minerals that can be used for Ev batteries, at the same time affecting the ocean ecosystem. (REUTERS)
Deep-sea mining can bring a lot of minerals that can be used for Ev batteries, at the same time affecting the ocean ecosystem.

BMW and Volvo have announced that they support a moratorium on deep-seabed mining for minerals that are used in electric vehicle batteries. The decision comes in an attempt to protect the fragile ocean ecosystems that are already under threat from pollution, noise, and man-made climate change. The decision is also backed by Samsung’s EV battery unit and tech giant Google.

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Despite the deep-seabed mining still in its infancy, several companies are seeking rights to extract potentially lucrative mineral deposits from the depths of the ocean, especially the metallic nodules that build up around hydrothermal vents.

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Giving a joint statement on the issue, BMW, Volvo, Samsung's EV battery unit and Google, have said that deep-seabed mining activities should be managed in a way that ensures the effective protection of the marine environment. “All alternatives to deep-sea minerals must be explored as a matter of urgency, with a focus on reducing demand for primary metals, transitioning to a resource-efficient, closed-loop materials economy, and developing responsible terrestrial mining practices," the joint statement said.

These companies have also said that they are committed not to source minerals from the deep seabed for making electric vehicle batteries and will exclude such minerals from their supply chains. Also, they vowed not to finance deep seabed mining activities.

According to an AP report quoting Craig Smith, a professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, at least one of the leading nodule mining contractors, DeepGreen, has cited that generating metals for EV batteries is their major motivation for large-scale mining.

Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management in Germany, has said the announcement by BMW and Volvo along with others is a significant step for other car manufacturers. “It underlines the importance of ecological considerations in a comprehensive well-to-wheel perspective," he said, adding that other automakers “will now at least hesitate to use minerals mined from the ocean in their electric vehicle batteries."

First Published Date: 01 Apr 2021, 12:15 PM IST
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