U.S. non-party status to UNCLOS has crippled the nascent domestic seabed mining industry
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Reclaiming United States deep seabed mineral sites now virtually abandoned. United States firms pioneered the technology for deep seabed mining and spent approximately $200 million in claiming four first-generation sites in the deep seabed for the mining of manganese nodules. These nodules contain attractive quantities of copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese and would be a major source of supply for the United States in these minerals. Paradoxically, 'protecting' our deep seabed industry has sometimes been a mantra for non-adherence to the Convention. Yet because of uncertainties resulting from U.S. non- adherence these sites have been virtually abandoned and most of our nascent deep seabed mining industry has disappeared. Moreover, it is clear that without U.S. adherence to the Convention our industry has absolutely no chance of being revived. I believe that as soon as the United States adheres to the Convention the Secretary of Commerce should set up a working group to assist the industry in reclaiming these sites. This working group might then recommend legislation that would deal with the industry problems in reducing costs associated with reacquiring and holding these sites until deep seabed mining becomes economically feasible;
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.