Nauru has become the first Pacific Island country to sponsor deep-sea mining exploration.
The international Seabed Authority has granted a Nauru-registered company, Nauru Ocean Resources Incorporation, a licence to scope equatorial waters for nodules of copper, manganese, cobalt and nickel.
The company's vice-president, Robert Heydon, says work will begin in the second half of this year.
"And that exploration will basically just be sort of sonar surveys that determine the the bathymetry and topography of the seafloor, as well as sampling. So bringing up samples from the seafloor to determine the grade, which is the percentage of metal in the ore on the seafloor as well as the abundance, so how much of these nodules are down there."
Robert Heydon says robotic devices will carry out the work, which will occur at depths of up to five kilometres.