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Parts of the Norwegian shelf opened for seabed mining activity

Norway’s Storting (Norwegian parliament) endorsed the Government’s proposal to open parts of the Norwegian continental shelf for exploration for and production of seabed minerals.

Norway is the first country in Europe to approve such seabed mining plans.


A section of a sulfide sample, obtained during an expedition to the Mohns Ridge in the Norwegian Sea in 2020. Photo: Øystein Leiknes Nag, Norwegian Offshore Directorate.

A final resolution will be made in the form of a Royal Decree.

The Norwegian Offshore Directorate (formerly the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate) has contributed to the opening process, among other things by coordinating work on the impact assessment and preparing a resource assessment.

The Directorate has mapped vast areas in the northern Norwegian Sea since 2017, taken samples and collected data about minerals and metals found on the seabed. The agency did this by means of its own expeditions, and also in cooperation with expert communities at the universities in Tromsø and Bergen.

The Norwegian continental shelf contains sulfides and manganese crusts, containing metals and minerals that are crucial for technology such as batteries, wind turbines, PCs and mobile phones. The analyses the Norwegian Offshore Directorate has conducted of sulfides so far show high contents of copper, zinc and cobalt. In addition rare earth elements have been found in samples from manganese crusts.

The Act relating to mineral activities on the Norwegian continental shelf—the Seabed Minerals Act—entered into force on 1 July 2019.

The Norwegian Offshore Directorate was tasked by the Ministry of Energy (MOE) to map the most commercially interesting mineral deposits on the Norwegian continental shelf.



I'm in two minds about this, and can see the arguments on either side.

As against, there are clearly substantial risks, and recycling should take priority.

I am not however sure that a blanket prohibition is the way through.

If it is to be done, I would rather the Norwegians were leading in the technology, than, say, the Chinese, as they are likely to be held to more account.

It also might be preferable to have a very long lead in time for the tech, so that proper protocols and assessments are made at every stage over a period of years.

What would be the worse would be failing to GRADUALLY develop and assess, then panicking and letting it rip.

So on balance it seems to me that very, very cautiously we should proceed, rather than having a blanket ban.

But it is a tricky one.

What do others reckon?


The worry is that they would generate a huge cloud of debris and silt which will kill everything down there. The biota that live deep down tend to live very slowly and presumably would recover slowly from a debris assault.
But, as DM says, better to have the Norwegians do it than less scrupulous.
It should be possible to mine with minimal disruption if you make an effort, but whether this would be safe in absolute terms is an open question.


Agreed. It seems as if some type of seabed mining is inevitable, so best that a country with high environmental protocols leads the way. I'd be interested to know what the Norwegian populace think of this? There is a whiff of hypocrisy in Norway, a country banging on about the penetration of EVs but that legacy built on North Sea oil.

BTW, what's happened to the commenting on this site? There used to be at least one or two comments on most of the content, now it's a bit of a wasteland (the honourable mahonj excepted). The content seems as good as it ever was, but people like Engineer-Poet and Roger Pham seem to have abandoned ship.


Hi Biff,

I think that Mike has perhaps limited time or other priorities than developing the site more.

I was sending him links to other new stuff, some of which he posted, and then it pretty much dried up, so I stopped sending stuff through.

There is also no facility here for PMs, which are integral to more discussion based forums.

It is still a good site, but as you say, discussion here is limited as it is rather difficult.


Thanks Dave. I admit this site doesn't have the best comments setup, but it's always been that way and I just seem to remember that there were a lot more comments previously. I guess the content has declined a little, in that it maybe doesn't reflect topics that promote discussion as it once did. There's also a ever-increasing number of places on the internet that you can discuss topics such as green transport, and perhaps people drift away to alternate sites.

Anyway, I used to enjoy the regular contributions from Engineer-Poet and HarveyD, plus all the other regulars. Glad there are still some people on here!

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