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Congress to Back U.S. Deep-Sea Mining Project

Congress will fund an initiative to spur the U.S. deep-sea mining industry as part of a larger push to obtain non-Chinese sources of critical metals needed for the energy transition (The Wall Street Journal, subscription).

What’s going on: “The House Armed Services Committee has instructed the Pentagon to commit $2 million to a feasibility study that will partner with ‘an entity experienced in refining critical minerals and producing battery-grade’ metals.”

  • The Defense Department will try to determine whether deep-sea minerals refinement is possible in the U.S.
  • Thus far, deep-sea mining “has been dominated by relatively small companies and Pacific island nations looking to access resources from the bottom of the sea.”
  • The news comes just more than two months after a group of former political and military leaders urged the Senate to ratify the United Nations’ Convention of the Law of the Sea to spark U.S. deep-sea mining efforts and some four months after Norway voted to open its waters to the practice.

Why it’s important: “Defense applications for minerals sourced from the deep sea include technology within missiles, aerospace parts, magnets and radar. U.S. Congress members, largely Republicans, have increasingly voiced support for deep-sea mining, seeing it as a way to counter China’s dominance of critical mineral processing with growing concerns in Washington over the Asian superpower’s hold over refining and production of key technologies, such as batteries.”

  • In March, Reps. Carol Miller (R-WV) and John Joyce (R-PA) introduced a bill in Congress urging financing and development of deep-sea mining in the U.S.
  • The U.N.’s International Seabed Authority is scheduled to meet in Jamaica in July to discuss the final details of a “mining code” that would set forth legal parameters for deep-sea mining in international waters.

Our view: “Deep-sea mining offers an innovative avenue to mitigate challenges from sourcing critical minerals, and it will help the U.S. continue its pursuit of a common-sense, all-of-the-above energy policy strategy,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Michael Davin. “We’re glad to see Congress moving on this front.”

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