14 Apr 2016

Cooks prepare for possible future extraction of seabed minerals

4:27 pm on 14 April 2016

The Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority has taken a further step in its efforts to develop a sustainable world class regulatory framework for deep sea mineral activities in the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone.

As the Authority awaits a bid for exploration activities for deep seabed minerals in the Cook Islands waters, it has already started a legal review of its national 2009 Seabed Minerals Act (SBM Act) to improve the effectiveness and clarity of future processes under the act.

Cook Islands News reports the Seabed Minerals Commissioner Paul Lynch as saying the act was the first of its type in the world to deal specifically with the management of national seabed minerals resources.

Sampling copper under the sea

Sampling copper under the sea Photo: Nautilus Minerals

However, he says it would benefit from a full review to ensure that it adopts the latest international best practices and prepare for what controls might be needed in the event extraction takes place in the future.

The Authority did not receive any bid to explore the ocean floor for minerals in the country's Exclusive Economic Zone from the tender it launched last year however Mr Lynch says a number of companies had recently shown serious interest.

One of the companies had even contracted a New Zealand scientist to analyse old Cook Islands seabed mineral samples stored with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in Wellington.

Mr Lynch said they would like to do the necessary preparatory exploration work over the next five years and then be ready for the next upturn in the cyclical global minerals market.

The tender, which closed in January, was aimed at attracting applications for exploration licences over 10 blocks totalling about 100,000 square kilometres of the Cook Islands' 1.83 million square kilometre EEZ.

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