Samsung SDI joins movement against deep-sea mining

Samsung Group’s battery-making unit is joining with global companies to boycott deep-sea mining for minerals used to make battery cells.

Samsung SDI is the first battery maker to take part in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-backed global moratorium in which companies such as BMW, Google and Volvo are participants.

Currently, battery materials such as cobalt, cooper, nickel and manganese are sourced from traditional mines on land. Deep-sea mining has yet to take off but the Pacific Ocean is known to be an abundant source of minerals.

According to the WWF, deep-sea mining for metals and minerals would have a destructive impact on deep-sea ecosystems and biodiversity, which in turn could have a damaging effect on fisheries, livelihoods and food security, and adversely affect ocean carbon and nutrient cycles.

“The intrinsic long-term benefits of a healthy ocean far outweigh any short-term incentives offered by deep seabed mining,” the WWF stated in its call for the moratorium.

“Extraction must not go ahead until the environmental, social and economic risks are understood, and all alternatives to deep sea minerals have been explored. Then appropriate regulation will be needed to protect the marine environment and human well-being.”

Global firms with licenses for deep-sea exploration are currently conducting research, hoping to take advantage of what they see as a lucrative opportunity. Among them is DeepGreen, the Canadian developer of battery metals from seafloor polymetallic nodules. The potential value of deep seabed mining has been estimated at $2 billion to $20 billion.

The moratorium on deep seabed mining seeks a ban until it is proven that this can take place in a way that protects the marine environment.

“We plan to continue taking interest and participate so that we can achieve management valuing the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) through seeking responsible mining and supply,” a Samsung SDI official said.

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