Webinar: Deep seabed mining and sustainability – mining for the green energy transition

On 21 April 2022, Volterra Fietta hosted the virtual seminar on “Deep seabed mining – mining for the green energy transition”.

Deep seabed mining is a rapidly developing industry.  It is on the cutting edge of technology and, according to its proponents, has the potential to power the world’s energy transition, in a green and environmentally friendly manner.  However, gaps exist in the scientific knowledge of the ecosystems of the deep seabed.  As a result, deep seabed mining is not without controversy.  As such, deep seabed mining currently stands at the forefront of debate in public international law.

This seminar addressed the environmental and sustainability issues arising out of deep seabed mining.

Our distinguished panel of speakers were:

Mr Christopher Williams, Managing Director at UK Seabed Resources, one of the world’s few companies with a deep-sea mining exploration licence.  UK Seabed Resources is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin UK.  It is authorised to explore a total of 133,000 km2 of the Pacific seabed.  Mr Williams is a recognised global expert on deep-sea mining.  He has participated in ISA’s stakeholder consultations relating to the draft regulations on the exploitation of mineral resources in the international seabed.

Ms Lowri Griffiths, Head of the Ocean Policy Unit at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.  The Ocean Policy Unit leads UK government policy on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as other marine and maritime issues.  Prior to joining the Ocean Policy Unit, Ms Griffiths was a lawyer in the Legal Directorate of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, advising on issues concerning the UK’s Overseas Territories, including maritime boundary negotiations and marine management issues, among others.

Dr Rahul Sharma, Former Chief Scientist at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India and currently a freelance consultant in deep-sea mining.  Dr Sharma has close to 40 years of experience in the exploration and exploitation of deep seabed minerals, including conducting research in evaluation of the economic potential of deep-sea minerals as well as leading a multi-disciplinary study on the environmental impact assessment of deep-sea mining.  In addition, Dr Sharma has widely published on deep seabed mining and is the editor of three books on Deep-Sea Mining, besides delivering talks on ‘Developing deep-sea minerals as an alternative source of metals’ around the world.

Ms Florentine Vos, Associate at Volterra Fietta.  Ms Vos advises States, international organisations and private clients on issues of public international law and international dispute settlement, including before the International Court of Justice and in investor-State arbitration.  Her expertise covers a wide array of public international law topics, including the law on the sea, such as dispute resolution under UNCLOS, maritime boundary delimitation and deep seabed mining.  She also publishes and speaks regularly on legal issues concerning deep seabed mining.

This event was moderated by Ms Angela Ha.  Ms Ha is a Senior Associate at Volterra Fietta.  Ms Ha is an Australian-qualified lawyer.  She advises governments and private clients on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious public international law issues.  She has acted for States before the International Court of Justice in cases involving maritime boundary delimitation and international human rights law.  She regularly acts for both investors and States in investor‑State arbitrations involving the energy, financial services, manufacturing, construction, mining and media sectors.  Alongside her legal practice, Ms Ha has lectured in public international law, international investment law and international energy law at University College London and SOAS University of London.