Tomorrow will be the first of three opportunities for the local resident community on Rarotonga to receive an Update on the latest information, relating to our national Seabed Minerals (SBM) sector.
This new sector is based on historical research that shows our deep seabed to be abundant in valuable Cobalt rich, Manganese nodules. Outer Islands and special interest group Consultations will also take place over the coming months.
The Minister responsible, the Deputy Prime Minister the Honourable Mark Brown will lead the presentations along and other relevant speakers and officials.
Topics to be covered will be latest SBM Sector news, the proposed 2nd Tender of Exploration areas and review of existing SBM Act from 2009 and related Policies.
Three years ago, in 2015, the first SBM Exploration Regulations were passed. However, the 2015 Tender of 10 Exploration blocks in our EEZ drew interest, but no Applications, due to low mineral prices. No Exploration Applications or Licences have been received or granted in the Cook Islands.
However, in 2018, due to a recent increase global demand and mineral prices, for Cobalt particularly, our country has received renewed interest from foreign investors to undertake Exploration work in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Government is planning to announce a 2nd Tender in early 2019.
New Cobalt demand is especially driven by the world’s growing Green Technology demands of Electric vehicles, technology, solar, wind and renewable energy applications.
The usual minerals development process is for Exploration (similar to Marine Scientific research (MSR) or Data collection) to occur over the next 3-5 years. Then decisions can be made whether it is acceptable and viable to permit harvesting of our Manganese Nodules. And what environmental, economic and regulatory issues need to be considered. Under Marae Moana (our new national multi-purpose, zoned Marine Park), high environmental standards will be applied to all marine activities, including seabed minerals activities, which will only occur outside the 50 nautical mile zone around our islands.
There will be numerous, on-going consultations and stakeholder inputs required before any final decisions in this sector can be made by the Government, which are aimed at benefiting the current and future generations of Cook Islanders.
More details are available from the SBM Authority on 29193 or our website wwwseabedmineralsauthority.gov.ck