Meet ‘The Polymetallic Nodules’ the new unsolicited heavy metal band. They’re on a mission to rock anyone who wants to mine the deep sea. And The Netherlands seems to have more than its fair share of industries intent on smashing the deep.

The act may seem maybe small or not too significant, but it’s a massive symbolic step for the cause against deep sea mining. Never has there been a protest on the doorstep of Allseas, a significant deep sea miner. The day a small boat on wheels appeared on their parking lot and stopped in front of their entrance in Delft, with three fishy looking figures playing heavy metal songs about deep sea mining, was the day they no longer could do their business in the dark.

Also the Technical University Delft, that has been inviting greenwashers like Shell, Exxon, Tata Steel and many more companies, has been honoured with an unexpected concert.

At the 2023 TU Delft Careers Day Deme-GSR and Allseas were both presenting their most prestigious projects, the foremost being deep sea mining. In a turn of the tide students protested against the presence of all the big polluters and Ocean Rebellion drew attention to these deep sea mining companies. The facade of a big glamorous career working on exciting progressive projects has been well and truly torn down.

Both these companies lurk in the shadows. AllSeas is a major shareholder of the Metals Company and owner of the deep sea mining vessel the Hidden Gem. Deme–GSR are the idiots who managed to get a deep sea mining robot stuck 4,500 metres beneath the Pacific Ocean.

The fate of the Ocean depends on us all.
Our interventions depend on your support.

‘The Polymetallic Nodules’ create an earsplitting sound, but their sound is much quieter than the noise deep sea mining inflicts on marine life [deep sea mining noise is estimated to be hundreds of times loader than a space rocket launch]. The ‘Nodules’ lyrics also ask how Allseas and Deme-GSR justify mining the sea bed? Surely their only justification is the greed of their shareholders or owner? And this isn’t an unfounded point, many companies and nations agree with us. Spain, France, Germany and Canada have all spoken out against deep sea mining, saying the impacts are not understood and the benefits are not apparent. Even BMW, Volkswagen and Renault have declared their electric vehicles will not use deep sea mined metals.

What is deep sea mining and what harm will it do?
Parts of the bottom of the deep sea contain so-called ‘manganese nodules’. These chunks of minerals can be used for battery technology, among other things. The companies who mine for nodules would like us to think this can be done carefully, but this is simply untrue. Deep sea mining strips the seabed of all life, releases huge plumes of sediment into the water column and the noise it makes disorientates marine life. And if deep sea mining goes ahead massive areas of the ocean seabed will be ruined. Recently the ISA (UN International Seabed Authority) awarded licences to mine 8,000 to 9,000 square kms of deep seabed at a time*. This area is equivalent to one third of Belgium. That’s one third of Belgium stripped clean of all life, hard to imagine this being allowed on land. So why does the ISA, and the deep sea mining companies, think it’s ok to do it at sea?

one third of Belgium stripped of life

‘The Polymetallic Nodules’ will be out gigging again soon. If you’re planning on mining the deep sea look out for them at your office, at your event or maybe outside your house.

Until the next time.

The fate of the Ocean depends on us all.
We’ll let you know what we’re doing to help.

Photos from the top, 1, 5, 6 and 7 James Petermeier. 2, 3, 4 and 8 below

Film Nico Garstman.

*The ISA has granted over thirty exploration licences to date, and if all 17 of the current mining claims in the Clarion Clipperton Zone were to be mined, the overall impact to the seabed would likely extend from some 350,000-800,000 km2 based on recent estimates from scientists (Smith et al., 2020).

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