The new phase of the Joint Action was approved by the JPI Oceans Management Board in April 2023, and reached the required support from four JPI Oceans member countries in July 2023. The approval followed an evaluation of the earlier funded MiningImpact 2 project in the fall of 2022, which involved funders, experts, and policy makers. It also ensued a broad consultation process, at which policy makers and representatives from both NGOs and industry were consulted to provide their perspective on a new phase of the Joint Action.
The continuation of the Joint Action will focus on the following issues that have been identified as important scientific objectives with regards to polymetallic nodule mining:
- Ecosystem dynamics
- Ecological impacts
- Science-based support to governance
Beyond the impact of polymetallic nodule mining addressed in the first two phases, a new phase also intends to fund a complementary study of the potential ecological impact of seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) mining.
The planned work will build on the results and achievements of the previous two phases which funded two research projects: MiningImpact 1 (2015-2017) and MiningImpact 2 (2018-2022). The first project investigated experimental and small-scale disturbances of the seafloor over decadal timescales, while the second project conducted a comprehensive monitoring programme to ensure an independent scientific investigation of the environmental impacts of a manganese nodule collector system trial by the Belgian company Global Sea Mineral Resources (DEME-GSR).
The successor activity on the ecological aspects of deep-sea mining will exclusively focus on studying the impacts on and risks for the marine environment. It does not imply that JPI Oceans or its Member Countries either endorse or disapprove of seafloor mining and related operations.