Article 208 of UNCLOS and National Regulation of Seabed Mining - Chapter 12 - Natural Resources and the Law of the Sea - International Law Institute Series on International Law, Arbitration and Practice, Volume 2
For decades, large-scale commercial mining of the deep seabed has been breathlessly described as a near-imminent reality. Inevitably, though, it seems that just as enthusiasm peaks, depressions in global commodity prices prompt would-be miners to shift their ambitions back over the horizon. With mineral prices, rather than mining contractors, once again plumbing benthic depths, it may be some time before large-scale deep seabed mining commences in earnest.
Yet this delay has done nothing to sap momentum toward regulating deep seabed mining in areas beyond national jurisdiction (the Area). Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention or UNCLOS), mining in the Area is made subject to the will of all countries, exercised through their membership in the International Seabed Authority (ISA or the Authority), the organization tasked with regulating extraction on the commonly held seafloor. At the Authority, the development of an international mining code proceeds apace. Gathering for an annual meeting in Kingston in July of 2014, its members called on their advisory body, the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC), to develop a draft regulatory framework for the exploitation of seabed minerals in the Area. In 2015, the LTC circulated a “draft framework” for these regulations and in July of 2016, produced a “zero draft” of the regulations themselves for review by the ISA members and for public comment. The hope is that these regulations will be ready for adoption in 2018.