2 Sep 2014

Tonga puts in place historic seabed law

3:27 pm on 2 September 2014

Tonga says it's the first country to put in place regulations for managing deep-sea mining and seabed mineral activities.

The Seabed Minerals Act 2014, which was prepared with assistance from the European Union and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, has been gazetted.

The Act provides for a vetting process of any project and public consultation.

It also requires an environmental impact assessment and monitoring while the government will have new enforcement powers.

The Deputy Secretary for Natural Resources, Taniela Kula, says the move is timely given the country's economic status.

"It has changed the government's priority to focus on seabed minerals. We believe that this is the key or the window of opportunity for Tonga to support its economic growth. And we'll put our and commit our efforts into getting this vision or dream materialised."

The SPC says the Act is not only a world first, but also a world best.

It says Tonga has established a regulatory system, which prioritises the good governance and management of natural resources.

There are three companies exploring mining opportunities in Tonga.