Reality of Seabed Mining

In 2012 and 2014, the Department of Mineral Resources granted three prospecting rights for marine phosphate to private companies.

These rights extend over a considerable portion of South Africa’s marine environment, together covering more than 150 000 km2, approximately 10% of our exclusive economic zone. Since prospecting rights are being granted there is every indication that marine mining will become a reality. The type of technology employed for seabed mining, Trailing Suction Hopper-Dredge (TSHD) has not been tested anywhere else in the world and is comparable to strip mining the sea floor at an alarming rate. This process creates a giant plume of toxic sediment that buries and smothers marine ecosystems.

Of critical concern, the socio-economic impacts of seabed mining have not been assessed. Finally, our current legal and governance framework is inadequate for dealing with bulk marine sediment mining. In response to these concerns, a group of organisations formed a coalition.

The Safeguard our Seabed main objective of the coalition is to pursue a moratorium, or ban, on bulk marine sediment mining in South Africa.