CSA has provided marine environmental and technical support services associated with the planning, permitting, and monitoring of five offshore geological resource mining projects. With this experience and our multi-disciplinary field investigation capabilities, CSA is able to provide our clients with environmental support solutions for submarine offshore mining operations. High quality environmental services supplemented with cutting-edge surveying capabilities enable CSA to collect critical data that help streamline offshore mining permitting and operations.
One of the primary components of offshore mining projects is environmental permitting. CSA has extensive experience representing clients during all phases of the regulatory process. In 1993, CSA completed the "Synthesis and Analysis of Existing Information Regarding Environmental Effects of Marine Mining" study for the U.S. Minerals Management Service Office of International Activities and Marine Minerals (INTERMAR). This study included a literature and data search as well as synthesis focused on marine exploration and development of nonfuel (hard) minerals. This was the first study specifically designed for marine nonfuel minerals funded by the MMS Environmental Studies Program. MMS requested this study to survey and analyze existing national and international information regarding the marine, coastal, and onshore environmental impacts of marine mining and to summarize this information in a single monograph-style report. The report also discussed the strengths, weaknesses, and appropriateness of various mitigation measures; evaluated models for predicting the fate of mining-related discharges and biological impacts of mining operations; and identified data gaps and research needs.
The results of this study have been invaluable to CSA when utilized in preparing permitting feasibilities studies and environmental impact assessments concerning potential offshore non-energy minerals activities. An excellent working knowledge of mining operations, the application of deepwater ROV technology and dredging operations, and our proven impact assessment methodology that complies with accepted international standards has helped CSA successfully gain approvals from local and federal government and regulatory agencies around the world.
Elements of Marine Mining Permits
Our approach to permitting and regulatory compliance relative to offshore projects and marine mining relies on several key elements:
- Our familiarity and past experience with environmental regulatory requirements resulting from the completion of multiple pipeline projects.
- Extensive work experience in the preparation of strategic and project-specific environmental assessments worldwide (i.e., Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs), Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), and ESIAs). In the absence of national standards in other international locations, CSA typically uses World Bank Group guidelines and standards in the preparation of international environmental permitting documents.
- Broad knowledge of coastal and deepwater environments (1,000 to 4,000 m) and their interactions and associated environmental issues provides the background for the development of realistic measures to mitigate potential adverse environmental impacts.
Environmental and Geophysical Surveys
CSA has designed and conducted environmental and geophysical surveys in support of offshore energy activities and these techniques could easily be applied to support non-fuel resource mining projects. Our field survey collection techniques can be used to characterize biological communities and assess potential impacts within the area of mining operations. Key elements of our surveying capabilities include:
- Development and conduct of programs for video/still camera hard/live bottom surveys along nearshore and offshore portions of pipeline routes.
- Qualitative photo documentation surveys to ground truth geophysical (side-scan sonar and subbottom profiler) pipeline corridor and hard bottom surveys.
- Quantitative photo documentation surveys to quantify biota in hard bottom areas.
- Comprehensive range of environmental sampling capabilities and equipment for the collection of sediment, water, biological samples, metocean, and geophysical data.