U.S. multinationals forced to work through other countries to pursue seabed mining claims because of U.S. non-party status
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As it stands in the seabed resource market, there are approximately 12 mining claims involving 14 countries under the International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental body established by the Law of the Sea Convention to have oversight of mineral-related activities in the international seabed. Lockheed Martin for years has had claims to explore and extract rare earth elements, which produce valuable metals used the world over in flat-screen televisions, electric hybrid batteries, tank armor, night-vision goggles and every mobile communications device.
“When you see an international, huge company like Lockheed who has got these claims, who has for years been trying to get access to them, that now may end up going to Lockheed Martin U.K. to get a site and operate through their U.K. operating unit, you have to ask why are American companies having to go to foreign governments to access deep seabed minerals when we as a country desperately need [this business]?”Pike said.
The development of deep seabed claims is incredibly expensive. Companies in the U.S. are reluctant to invest heavily in deep seabed mining because of the risk that their activities would not withstand a legal challenge since the U.S. is not a party to the Convention. Conversely, foreign companies, because their governments have joined the Convention, have access to the international bodies that grant the legal claims to operate in the deep seabed area. The U.S. cannot represent the interests of its companies in those bodies.