NORI-D Project – Nauru Ocean Resources Inc.
Nauru Ocean Resources, Inc., is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Metals Company.
In 2011, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) granted a polymetallic nodule exploration contract in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) to NORI, sponsored by the government of the Republic of Nauru. Since then, in close partnership with Nauru and working with leading researchers and institutions, NORI has progressed with a comprehensive seabed-to-surface research program in one of its designated areas, NORI-D. Representing 22% of The Metals Company’s estimated resource in the CCZ, the NORI license area is ranked as having the largest undeveloped nickel deposit in the world.
Key Project Milestones
NORI has completed 18 resource evaluation and environmental baseline campaigns including Environmental Expedition 5E (Nov. 2021), Environmental Expedition 5D (April 2021), Environmental Expedition 4D (June 2020), Campaign 6B (Nov. 2019), and Campaign 3 (April 2018), with a wide range of meteorological and oceanographic measurements and data collected, including on biodiversity, deep-sea food chains, ecosystem function, geochemistry, and nutrient cycles. NORI expects to submit an application to the ISA for an exploitation contract for NORI-D in the second half of 2023.
Below, our current progress report:
COMPLETED: Sponsorship Agreement
COMPLETED: Exploration Contract
COMPLETED: Resource Technical Report Summary
SUBMITTED: Collector Test Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
APPROVED: Pilot Nodule Collector System Test
COMPLETED: Pilot Nodule Collector System Test
COMPLETED: Collector Test and Monitoring
H2 2024: Exploitation contract application submission expected
2025: Project Zero, small-scale commercial production expected
2026: Project One, larger-scale production start expected
Regulatory Context: UNCLOS and ISA
Exploration and exploitation of seabed minerals in international waters (The Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction – often referred to as “The Area”) is regulated by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). It is an autonomous intergovernmental organization enabled by the 1994 Agreement Relating to the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (the 1994 Agreement).
Headquartered in Jamaica, ISA organizes and controls all mineral-resources-related activities in “The Area” (where UNCLOS applies) for the benefit of humankind. This also means that the ISA does not organize, regulate or control onshore facilities or activities which fall within the jurisdiction of their host countries. The ISA is financed and governed by 167 Member States and the European Union.
The ISA has issued a total of 19 polymetallic nodule exploration contracts covering approximately 1.28 million km2, or 0.4 percent of the global seafloor. Of these contracts, 17 are located in the CCZ, which has a width comparable to the continental USA. Three of the contracts in the CCZ are affiliated with TMC, which includes NORI.
Nauru is an island nation located in the South Pacific, it’s fringed by a coral reef that acts as the island’s main defense from rising sea levels. Colonial exploitation of Nauru’s rich phosphate reserves created a legacy of environmental degradation that left the entire interior of the island uninhabitable and unsuitable for agriculture. As a result of this legacy, Nauru is dedicated to ensuring that future extractive activities are done responsibly. Nauru is a party to UNCLOS and a member of the ISA whose mandate is to organize, regulate and control mineral-related activities in the international seabed area for the benefit of humankind. The country has implemented legislation that governs its participation in this industry, and is the first sponsoring state to access the developing state land bank in an effort to diversify its economy and contribute to the transition to clean energy.
Stakeholder Engagement & Consultation
NORI is committed to open and transparent stakeholder engagement to ensure that we operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
The following principles inform NORI’s stakeholder engagement:
- Proactive engagement and listening: We seek and welcome diverse thoughts, opinions, and experiences to help us make better decisions and outcomes.
- Accessibility: We are committed to reducing barriers to participation and will offer a variety of channels and methods to encourage equitable engagement.
- Responsiveness: We will consider, respond, and incorporate stakeholder feedback where we can and if not possible, explain why. We will be clear about how we incorporate feedback into our planning and decision making.
- Transparency: We are transparent – we are open, true, and direct with stakeholders about our company, operations, and decisions and provide accurate information. We are committed to providing opportunities for external monitoring.
- Grievances: We ensure that there is an accessible and responsive means for stakeholders to raise concerns and grievances about the project through its life.
- Reporting: We track, measure and report on our stakeholder performance to learn, adapt and improve our approaches.
Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
In international waters far from human communities, the NORI-D Polymetallic Nodule Project presents a fascinating challenge for the development of a Social Impact Assessment (SIA). We are delighted to partner with Prizma LLC, an independent ESG, impact assessment and sustainability advisory practice with deep experience in natural resources.
On May 5th, 2022, NORI co-hosted with Prizma LLC a scoping workshop in Vancouver, BC, to explore the fascinating challenge of developing a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for NORI-D. We will offer additional opportunities to engage on the SIA and related work over the coming months and will update this page as more information becomes available.
NORI-D SIA Updates
Scoping study and Stakeholder Consultation for the Social Impact Assessment
As part of NORI’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, we engaged Prizma LLC to undertake an independent Social Impact Assessment (SIA) of the NORI-D Nodule Collection Project. On December 15, 2022, the SIA Scoping Document was published for public comment. Following an open and transparent public disclosure and consultation process, we are pleased to publish the Scoping Report and Engagement Record for the NORI-D SIA to summarize the process and comments received as well as responses provided. Following the release of the study as well as stakeholder consultation, we are also pleased to share the resulting Terms of Reference for the impact assessment phase.
NORI is planning additional engagement activities to meet and hear from stakeholders. This will include a side event at the session of the ISA Council in Kingston on March 28, 2023, as well as a webinar to summarize the scoping and planned meetings with Pacific stakeholders in April/May (dates TBC). We hope to see you there and, in the meantime, we hope you will consider the materials below.
Download: Terms of Reference for the NORI-D SIA
NORI Collector Test Campaign Updates
Stakeholder Consultation for the NORI Collector Test Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
The Republic of Nauru, as the Sponsoring State to Nauru Ocean Resources Incorporated (NORI), invited all stakeholders with an interest in NORI’s upcoming Collector Test Campaign and the collection of deep-sea nodules to participate in a consultation process and two-part stakeholder community webinar series beginning Fall 2021 and concluding Spring 2022.
The goal of the stakeholder consultation process was to provide the stakeholder community — citizens of the Republic of Nauru, scientists, government and non-governmental officials, industry representatives, and other interested members of the public — with the opportunity to discuss, review, comment, and guide revisions to the NORI Collector Test EIS received by the International Seabed Authority. Stakeholder consultation is recommended by the ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission. The Republic of Nauru committed to a process that was transparent, inclusive, and efficient, and benefitted from receiving the diverse knowledge and perspectives of the stakeholder community during the consultation process.
Stakeholder Webinar Series
During the first stakeholder community webinar, participants were introduced to the planned Collector Test Campaign and EIS as well as the stakeholder consultation process. Following the close of public comment on Friday, November 19, 2021, stakeholders were encouraged to join a second webinar on Monday, March 7, 2022 to receive a high-level summary of feedback received from the stakeholder community and revisions to the EIS. Webinars were convened using Zoom and recorded.
Please read the stakeholder consultation summary report (which can be downloaded below) for a detailed understanding of the Republic of Nauru’s stakeholder consultation process for the NORI Collector Test campaign EIS. This report includes information about the topics of discussion during the webinar series and participation of stakeholders in the consultation process.
Note that verbal comments during webinars were taken into consideration by the Republic of Nauru but did not constitute formal public comment. Stakeholders were encouraged to follow instructions to submit written comments using the electronic form below or via email during the public comment period.
Stakeholder Consultation Process & Comment Period
Stakeholders were asked to submit written comments by Friday, November 19, 2021. Public comments were not accepted after the deadline and in any other form unless an agreement was reached before the deadline. The Republic of Nauru received 19 public comment submissions with over 600 stakeholder comments on the EIS by the end of the public comment period. Public comment submissions and a summary of NORI’s responses to comments were shared with the ISA in March 2022.
Information on NORI Collector Test Campaign & Environmental Impact Statement
The EIS describes NORI’s plans to test a polymetallic nodule collector system in the NORI-D lease area of the eastern Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and Mexico. The proposed 60-day Collector Test is a key part of NORI’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process. The one-fifth scale Prototype Collector Vehicle will collect polymetallic nodules from the seafloor at a depth of 4,000-5,500 meters.
On the 7th of September 2022, The Metals Company announced that the International Seabed Authority completed its review of the EIS and EMMP submitted by NORI and recommend that it proceed with the collector test and is anticipated to conclude by end of Q4 2022. During the Collector Test, the performance of the system and the ecological and environmental conditions will be monitored. The scientific, environmental, and engineering data collected and lessons learned during the Collector Test will increase understanding of the performance of the technology and potential effects on the deep-sea ecosystem. You can access the follow resources below.
NORI D Collector Test EIS – Initial Submission – Resources
NORI D Collector Test EIS – Revised Final Submission – Resources
Environmental Management and Monitoring Program
Stakeholder Consultation Summary
Project updates and Resources
NORI Project Updates and Resources
NORI is pleased to provide updates to stakeholders on the progress of our project and on news in our community.
NORI Offshore Engineering Update, June 2022: Watch webinar
Designing an Ecosystem-Based Environmental Monitoring and Management Plan for Deep-Sea Nodule Collection, October 2022: Watch webinar
Scoping the Social Impact Assessment and Stakeholder Consultation for the NORI-D Project (North America/Europe/Africa timezones), January 2023: Watch webinar
Scoping the Social Impact Assessment and Stakeholder Consultation for the NORI-D Project (Australasia timezones), January 2023: Watch webinar
Designing a Digital Twin and Dashboard For Adaptive Management of Exploitation Activities and Environmental Monitoring, February 2023: Watch webinar
NORI Environmental Program Update, November 2023: Watch webinar
1 November 2022 – Presented at the side event at the ISA Council 27th session Part III in Kingston, Jamaica
2 November 2022 – Presented at the side event at the ISA Council 27th session Part III in Kingston, Jamaica
20 March 2023 – Presented at the side event at the ISA Council 28th session Part I in Kingston, Jamaica
28 March 2023 – Presented at the side event at the ISA Council 28th session Part I in Kingston, Jamaica
13 July 2023 – Presented at the side event at the ISA Council 28th session Part II in Kingston, Jamaica
31 October 2023 — Presented at the side event at the ISA Council 28th session Part III in Kingston, Jamaica