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Newsflash

From March 11-15th 2013, the Kingdom of Tonga is to host a regional workshop on “Law and Contract Negotiations for Deep Sea Minerals” in Nuku’alofa, on behalf of the SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project.  

The Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project is funded by the European Union and managed by SOPAC, the Applied Geoscience & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The project includes 15 Pacific Island Countries: 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.

Hannah Lily, Legal Adviser for the Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project, says a main objective of the Tonga workshop is to provide government officials with the knowledge, skills and confidence to negotiate effectively with well-resourced deep sea mining companies.  Ms. Lily says the Project stresses the importance for countries to put in place robust law and regulatory mechanisms for the national management of deep sea minerals before any negotiations take place.

“We strongly recommend that countries have these mechanisms in place before any individual project negotiations commence. Dedicated seabed minerals legislation will assist the country to meet its obligations under international law, such as the protection of the marine environment. It will also provide clarity and stability to that country’s operating environment and what it expects from mineral companies.”

“Seabed mineral resources represent an exciting new economic opportunity for Pacific Island States. But, in order to make the most of this opportunity, governments will need to find responsible exploration and mining companies, and work to set terms that provide sufficient protection and financial return to the country,” she says.