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Seabed mining

What is it?

An active hydrothermal vent chimney spewing out hydrothermal fluids. By Image courtesy of Submarine Ring of Fire 2006 Exploration, NOAA Vents Program. (NOAA Photo Library: expl1373)

The quantity of minerals occupying the ocean floor is potentially large. Seabed mining is concerned with the retrieval of these minerals to:

  • ensure security of supply; and
  • fill a gap in the market where either recycling is not possible or adequate, or the burden on terrestrial mines is too great.

Why EU-level action?

Numerous organisations within the EU are presently engaged in seabed mining activities, both as technology providers and as mine operators. The sector, though small, has been identified as having the potential to generate sustainable growth and jobs for future generations.

However, our lack of knowledge of the deep-sea environment necessitates a careful approach. The European Commission is thus engaged in a variety of studies and projects aimed at shedding light on the benefits, drawbacks and knowledge gaps associated with this type of mining.

Official documents


Stakeholder consultation on seabed mining

More info


Maritime affairs


  • 03/02/2016 - Commission publishes summary report on ocean governance consultation

    What can the EU do to promote the sustainable use of seas and oceans and preserve internationally shared marine resources? How can it help secure the conditions of sustainable blue growth? European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella today announced the results of a European Commission consultation on international ocean governance which took place from June to October 2015, alongside a 'listening tour' with stops in Portugal, Ireland, Malta, the United States, Norway, Chile, Spain and France, among others.

  • 01/02/2016 - European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) - overview

  • 27/01/2016 - Arctic indigenous peoples dialogue – 22 January 2016

    Climate change is having a profound effect on the Arctic. As the Arctic ice melts and the region is seeing increasing economic development, how are the 400 000 indigenous peoples that are living in the Arctic coping with these changes?