A new report by the World Bank says Pacific Island countries should be cautious over any plans for mining of the seabed.
Released today, the ‘Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential’ report recommends that Pacific countries supporting or considering deep sea mining activities proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to their ecosystems.
It also stresses the need for strong governance arrangements to ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are in place.
Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands have all granted permits for deep sea mining exploration and the Cook Islands recently undertook a minerals exploration tender process.
PNG is the only country in the region to have granted a license for ocean floor mining.
It has given approval for the Canadian miner Nautilus minerals to launch its Solwara 1 Project in PNG waters in 2018.
A recent report by the Pacific Community and the European Union said seabed mining could see PNG reap economic benefits of US$80 million over two years.
But the World Bank said not enough was known about the environmental and social impacts of the enterprise and likewise the appropriate fiscal regime and economic benefit to deep sea mining were not yet clearly understood.