Tag Archives: Ocean Minerals

Seabed minerals [mining] company to visit Cook Islands

Seabed Minerals Authority mining operations commissioner Paul Lynch says ‘exploration’ is very different from the ‘exploitation’ the EU Parliament wants to stop.

Jonathan Harwood | Cooks Island News | February 12, 2018

Representatives from United States-based company Ocean Minerals LLC (OML), which has an option on exploring the possibility of seabed mining in Cook Islands waters, are to visit Rarotonga next month.

Last year, the company signed a deal worth $100,000 to reserve an area of around 23,000 square kilometres containing high-value polymetallic (manganese) nodules for up to 18 months.

They have until April next year to make an application to begin exploration work within the Cook Islands EEZ.

The visit comes soon after the European Parliament called for a moratorium on seabed mining.

In January it passed a resolution that “calls on the (European) Commission and (European Union) member states to support an international moratorium on commercial deep-sea mining exploitation licenses until such time as the effects of deep-sea mining on the marine environment, biodiversity and human activities at sea have been studied and researched sufficiently and all possible risks are understood.”

Paul Lynch, commissioner of the Seabed Minerals Authority in the Cook Islands said any mining operations in local waters remained a long way off.

And he explained that “exploitation”, which is what European legislators want to halt, was very different to “exploration”, which is what is currently being considered for the Cook Islands.

Exploration involves short term scientific research to understand the viability of any mining proposal, and also involves assessing what impact it might have on the seabed and environment. Exploitation is the final stage and involves the actual removal of minerals from the seabed and could last for many decades.

Indeed, a desire to understand the effects of deep-sea mining or exploitation could be interpreted as a call for more knowledge to be gained from exploration projects.

Lynch said he was confident that the Cook Islands was approaching the issue in a responsible way, having passed the Seabed Minerals Act in 2009 – the world’s first national legislation dedicated to regulating seabed minerals activities.

“We have a world class regulatory framework to deal with the potential risks. And that is why we want to first seek exploration applications, over the next three to five years, so we can see if it is viable for the country, in terms of benefits and sustainability. The contractor also needs to determine its own costs and benefits perspective.”

He added that any subsequent mining operations were still five to eight years away and would adhere to “best international practice and high environmental principles in collaboration with Marae Moana”.


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Environmental cost will likely stop Cooks’ seabed mining

Photo: Florence Syme-Buchanan/RNZ

Radio New Zealand | 15 November 2017 

The Cook Islands’ Seabed Minerals Authority Commissioner says deep sea mineral extraction in the country will likely not go ahead if the environmental cost is too high.

Paul Lynch said the country’s Seabed Minerals Act ensured a careful, steady approach to any potential exploration or mining.

He said the act was the world’s first, dedicated national legislation to control seabed minerals activities.

Mr Lynch said criticism, based on objections to seabed mineral prospecting in other countries, is superficial and close-minded.

The Pacific Network on Globalisation co-ordinator Maureen Penjueli said Pacific Island governments need to be extremely cautious about deep sea mining as it’s largely experimental with many potential liabilities.

Mr Lynch said, at a depth of 5000 metres, the Cook Islands manganese nodules are a different resource to other countries.

He said any future extraction may be 5-10 years away.

The Cook Islands government last month entered into an agreement with the company Ocean Minerals to reserve 23,000 square kilometres of the country’s exclusive economic zone for up to 18 months.

The agreement gives the company exclusive rights to apply for manganese nodule prospecting and exploration licenses.

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Cook Islands receives just $71,000 for seabed exploration rights

Cook Islands’ waters include environmentally valuable coral reefs, seagrass beds and fisheries.

Cooks govt enters into ocean mining agreement

Radio New Zealand | 4 October 2017

The Cook Islands government has entered into an agreement with a company called Ocean Minerals to reserve 23,000 square kilometres of the country’s exclusive economic zone for up to 18 months.

The agreement which earned the government $US71,000 gives the company the exclusive right to apply for licensing to undertake prospecting and exploration activities for manganese nodules.

If Ocean Minerals does apply for an exploratory license within the agreed timeframe, the company will be expected to go through the necessary processes required by the Cook’s Seabed Minerals Act, the recently passed Marae Moana Act, and the Environment Act.

This is the second agreement negotiated with the company.


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Mining company paying holding rights for Cooks seabed area

Cook Islands’ waters include environmentally valuable coral reefs, seagrass beds and fisheries.

Radio New Zealand | 22 May 2017

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.”

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US company to explore Cook Islands seabed for minerals

ocean life

Radio NZ | 29 September 2016

A new US company says it has signed an agreement with the Cook Islands granting it rights to prospect and explore the country’s seabed for minerals.

In a statement the Texan company Ocean Minerals said it had secured exclusive access to parts of the seabed within Cook Islands exclusive economic zone.

The company said it believed these areas contained sediments enriched with rare earth elements.

It said this was based on research conducted by the Houston-based Deep Reach Technology Inc. on existing archived samples throughout the Pacific.

Ocean Minerals said it plans to undertake several phases of seabed sampling over the next few years which will incorporate the collection of environmental baseline data.

In July the Cook Islands Investment Corporation’s chair, Mike Henry, signed a contract with the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority giving it exclusive mineral rights to an area of 75,000 square kilometres in the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone.

The 7,240 km long mineral rich zone extends over millions of square kilometres in the north Pacific.

Cook Island News also reported that a joint venture agreement was also signed with Belgian company, GSR, giving it the possibility of exploring and exploiting the Cook Islands ocean floor minerals.

The Texas Limited Liability Company Ocean Minerals was formed in 2016 and is focused on developing the Rare Earth Element enriched sediment resources in the Cook Islands EEZ.

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