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Workshop to set platform for management of Deep Seabed Minerals

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A major project to address legislative, regulatory, capacity requirements and environmental issues pertaining to deep sea mineral mining for countries in the Pacific region will be launched at a three-day workshop from June 6 through June 8 in Nadi.

The Deep Sea Minerals Project, administered by SOPAC, a division of SPC, and funded by EU, is to develop a legislative and regulatory framework for deep-sea mineral mining over a four-year period.

“This will help ensure that sustainable resource management would bring tangible benefits to Pacific Island Countries and their people”, said Akuila Tawake, Deep Sea Minerals Project Team Leader.

The workshop, a part of the Project, reflects the growing interest in the region with the first commercial mining lease being granted in Papua New Guinea territorial waters to mine ‘high grade’ Seafloor Massive Sulphide (SMS) deposits.

SMS deposits include copper, gold, silver, zinc and lead. This, in turn has triggered growing interest in mining deep-sea minerals in the Pacific Region. In addition to SMS, the seabed of the region is abundant in manganese nodules and cobalt rich crusts.

Presently, about eight countries in the region have granted and/or are at various stages of granting exploration licenses but specific policy, legislation and regulations necessary for the control of deep-sea mineral resources are lacking.

“The purpose of the workshop is to help representatives of those countries participating in the Project to better understand issues related to seabed minerals and mining,” said Mr. Tawake.

“In addition,” he said, “this workshop would allow stakeholders, including representatives of participating countries, to discuss all aspects of the project and work towards an agreement on a way forward for the next four years. “

Fifteen of the world’s top technical, policy and environmental experts on issues relating to deep sea minerals will take part in the workshop.

“These are world renowned experts who are specialists in their own fields of studies and interests. We are fortunate to secure their services for the regional workshop,” said Mr Tawake.

He said that they are expected to provide the necessary advice and guidance during the workshop.

The workshop will be followed by a two-day steering committee meeting of these selected experts on June 9 and 10 on an assessment of regional marine mineral resources.  The assessment will be based on past scientific studies and exploration.

“This meeting is part of the SPC and the Norway based UNEP/GRID-Arendal, (the United Nations Environment Programme information office) partnership,” said Mr Tawake. It is expected that the outcomes from this assessment will take one year to complete.”

Countries that are participating in the Project are the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Photo captionAkuila Tawale. Deep Sea Mineral Project Team Leader

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 May 2011 05:41  

Newsflash

Under Pressure is a short video that examines the perspectives of different stakeholders involved with deep sea mineral resources in the Pacific.

Several Pacific Island nations are eagerly eyeing up the potential economic benefits from valuable deep sea mineral resources that have been discovered within their extensive maritime territories. Rising global demand for metals, combined with advances in mining technology, have spurred a rush of commercial interest in the potential profits to be gleaned from the depths of the ocean floor.  

These Pacific Island countries have now become the centre of an international debate over whether the sustainable economic benefits for Pacific Islanders will outweigh the environmental risks of harvesting these precious metals from the bottom of the sea. This short film examines the deep sea mining issue from a number of perspectives including anti-deep sea mining NGO’s, politicians, government agencies, deep sea mining companies, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Under Pressure is the first of a series of three films supported by the SPC-EU funded Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project. The next two films will explore the current state of scientific knowledge about deep sea minerals in the Pacific and the current situation in Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Island country that has been at the centre of the deep sea mining debate.

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