Uncertainties Surround Future of U.S. Ocean Mining

NSIAD-83-41: Published: Sep 6, 1983. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1983.

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GAO reported on the federal government's involvement in ocean mining and examined efforts to further develop U.S. ocean mining to provide access to seabed resources as a desirable supply source.

The United States rejected the U.N.-backed Law of the Sea Treaty, hoping to provide a more adequate framework by which to ensure access to the strategic mineral resources of ocean seabeds. GAO found that, although the President designated a council to coordinate a national materials policy, no such policy has yet emerged. The current focus of government activity is directed toward negotiation of a reciprocating agreement with other industrialized countries. GAO believes that negotiating an alternative arrangement to the Treaty will not, in itself, ensure the development of ocean mining as an alternative source for critical materials. Further, the current uncertainties regarding U.S. ocean mining require the government to make more comprehensive vulnerability assessments to better gauge how extensively ocean mining should be promoted and how to effectively formulate financially oriented policies to aid private industry.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Office believes that implementing this recommendation would be inefficient use of resources. RCED has testified on several occasions on the Office's lack of compliance with legislative requirements to which the GAO recommendation refers. NSIAD/SIR believes that RCED is the appropriate focal point for monitoring the Office's performance in implementing recommendations.

    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy should conduct the necessary assessments to support the development of an ocean mining policy.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy


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