Norway’s Parliament on Tuesday voted in favour of allowing Arctic seabed mineral exploration, in line with a deal reached between the government and key opposition parties last month, overcoming objections from environmental campaigners.
The decision comes as Norway hopes to become the first country to make deep-sea mining happen on a commercial scale and secure critical minerals and jobs despite concerns over the environmental impact and international calls for a moratorium.
There is yet no set timeline for when exploration could begin, although the plan is to award companies exclusive rights to exploration and potential extraction from specific areas after an after application process.
The process will be modelled on that established for Norway’s oil and gas exploration, while matters such as taxation would be debated at a later stage, a policy maker told Reuters.
“We’re now going to see if this can be done in a sustainable manner, and that is the step we have taken now,” Energy Minister Terje Aasland told Parliament.
The amended version of the government’s proposal, which was debated on Tuesday, sets stricter environmental survey requirements during the exploration phase than originally planned