The Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has concluded its review of an environmental impact statement (EIS) submitted to the Secretary-General of ISA by Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI) regarding its plans to carry out testing of a polymetallic nodule collector and mining components in its NORI-D contract area in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Central Pacific Ocean.
NORI submitted an initial EIS on 30 July 2021 and a revised EIS on 1 March 2022 following a public consultation. The LTC started the review at its meetings in March 2022. To assist its review of the EIS for completeness, accuracy and statistical reliability, the LTC requested that a more substantive monitoring plan be provided, including details of the survey design, sampling programme and management procedures.
NORI submitted a separate environmental management and monitoring plan (EMMP) on 2 May 2022 and the LTC continued its review of the EIS and the EMMP during its meetings in July 2022. The LTC commended NORI for the overall achievements of environmental base line studies carried out to date in NORI-D based on a series of survey campaigns and sampling operations following the recommendations of the LTC (ISBA/25/LTC/6/Rev.2). Comments were made on aspects where the EIS (and especially the EMMP) required specific details.
The LTC provided the results of its review (ISBA/27/C/16/Add.1) to NORI on 15 July 2022, requesting further information relating to the proposed monitoring plan and giving NORI an additional 30 days to respond. Responses from NORI were received on 1 August 2022.
Following an extensive review of the additional information provided by NORI, the LTC recommended to the Secretary-General of ISA in August 2022 that the completed EIS be incorporated into the programme of NORI’s activities under its exploration contract with ISA.
On 5 September 2022, the Secretary-General notified the contractor of the recommendation of the LTC. NORI will now be able to conduct a test of mining components and their integration onboard its vessel Hidden Gem and is requested to report on the result of the tests in the context of its compulsory annual report.
As per the mandate assigned to it by UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement, ISA and its 168 Members are committed to ensure the protection of the marine environment from potential harmful impacts that seabed activities could cause. The Compliance Assurance and Regulatory Management Unit of the ISA Secretariat has notified NORI of its intention to conduct an inspection of its activities pursuant to the relevant regulations.
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