The Cook Islands government has been earning $US8000 a month as part of a five-year deal with a US mining company to hold an area of seabed for potential mining.
Ocean Minerals Limited is paying for holding rights to secure an area between Aitutaki and Penrhyn until it can raise $US20 million to explore the area.
After conducting research the company said the area could yield valuable minerals from the seabed.
The Cooks Islands Seabed Minerals Authority Commissioner Paul Lynch says the holding rights are a precursor to the company applying for exploration application or a mining licence.
"They're not able to just pay US$20 million to just fund a boat to come up and explore so they're just asking the government to hold one of our key sites for them and they're paying $8000 a month until they either apply for the exploration licence or and their time limit runs out and they lose it."