SEABED deep sea mineral mining will not be conducted in waters around Fiji in the near future, says Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Malakai Finau.
“The costs involved are absolutely huge,” he said.
“Current exploration interest is in its very early or preliminary stages, we haven’t even reached the advanced stages as yet.
“Seabed resource exploration requires a lot of resources. One of the biggest costs is the need to engage a state-of-the-art marine research vessel.
“Getting exploratory work done on land is very expensive, so you can imagine what it’s like when you are attempting to do this out at sea.”
Meanwhile, a report by the World Bank released in April last year titled “Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential”, called on Pacific Island countries to be extra vigilant and cautious over any plans for seabed mining.
The report said any Pacific country supporting or considering deep sea mining activities must proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to ecosystems.
The World Bank report also emphasised the need for strong governance measures to ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards were in place.
Pacific Island countries that have granted permits for deep sea mining exploration include Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The Cook Islands has advanced its efforts and done a minerals exploration tender process.
Mr Finau is chairing the Science Technology and Resources (STAR) Network’s 2017 conference at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi.
The conference is supported by the Geoscience Division of the Pacific Community and sponsored by Standard Concrete Industries (Fiji), XINFA Mines (Fiji) and the UNDP neglected development minerals project with support also from the Circum-Pacific Council.