(Reuters) – Google, BMW, Volvo and Samsung SDI are the first global companies to have signed up to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining, the WWF said on Wednesday.
In backing the call, the companies commit not to source any minerals from the seabed, to exclude such minerals from their supply chains, and not to finance deep seabed mining activities, the WWF said in a statement.
Deep-sea mining would extract cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese – key materials commonly used to make batteries – from potato-sized nodules which pepper the sea floor at depths of 4-6 kilometres and are particularly abundant in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the North Pacific Ocean, a vast area spanning millions of kilometres between Hawaii and Mexico.
“With much of the deep sea ecosystem yet to be explored and understood, such activity would be recklessly short-sighted,” WWF said in a statement.
The moratorium calls for a ban on deep seabed mining activities until the risks are fully understood and all alternatives are exhausted.
BMW said raw materials from deep-sea mining are “not an option” for the company at present because there are insufficient scientific findings to be able to assess the environmental risks. Google and Volvo did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.
South Korea’s Samsung SDI said it was the first battery maker to participate in WWF’s initiative.