Rarotonga, Cook Islands, September 29, 2017 – Ocean Minerals, LLC (OML) and the government of the Cook Islands, through the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), have entered into an Agreement that will reserve approximately 23,000 square kilometres within the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) containing high value polymetallic nodules for up to 18 months to enable the OML the exclusive right to apply to undertake prospecting and exploration activities in that area. OML is required to apply for an Exploration License under the Seabed Minerals Act of 2009 within that period.
This is the second agreement between OML and CIIC. The first agreement, signed in September 2016, was restricted to exploration of the rare earth enriched sediments which underlie the nodules. That agreement was for 12,000 sq km in another part of the Cook Islands EEZ, and included first rights of refusal over an additional 48,000 sq km.
OML Chairman, Dr. John Halkyard, notes that the interest in the Cook Islands’ nodules is based on published estimates showing that the Cook Islands cobalt resource is potentially close to 15-20% of the world’s presently known resource of cobalt.
“Cobalt is becoming one of the most talked about mineral elements today. Cobalt has high tech uses, as it is an essential ingredient in long life lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles,” stated Halkyard. “With today’s deep-sea technology, we believe the higher grades can be extracted in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner.”
OML has confirmed that it will have a focus on the sensitivity of environmental and social issues and that these will be at the forefront of the project planning:
“Once we are underway, we plan to have Cook Islanders involved in our project from the beginning of the planning process, and will be meeting with the Cook Island community and leaders on a regular basis. At OML, we are very excited about engaging with the Cook Islands Government and people on both the 2016 rare earth sediment project, and the new 2017 nodule project, to develop a new national economic opportunity for the Cook Islands people, and at the same time bringing new World Class mineral resources to market for green energy applications.”