30 June 2016
From left: SPC Geoscience Division Director, Professor Michael Petterson, EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E Andrew Jacobs, and Foreign Affairs officer for Cook Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Melody Jonassen at the frameworks launch event in Noumea.
Noumea, New Caledonia- Two frameworks released today will build knowledge of deep sea minerals and their governance, and support informed decision-making by Pacific Island countries.
They are the latest information resources developed for stakeholders interested in this emerging sector through the European Union-supported Deep Sea Minerals Project, implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).
The Regional Financial Framework for Deep Sea Minerals Exploration and Exploitation is aimed at providing Pacific countries with a guide to the major issues to be addressed when setting up national financial frameworks.
It was prepared in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund through the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre and provides an overview of key issues in the financial management of revenues and wealth associated with the potential development of deep sea minerals in the region.
The Regional Environmental Management Framework for Deep Sea Minerals Exploration and Exploitation contains an overview of deep sea mineral deposit environments and potential environmental impacts of deep sea mining projects, as well as management and mitigation strategies, including an environmental impact assessment report template.
The environmental framework serves as a guide for Pacific countries, informing and supporting them to make sound decisions regarding their deep sea mineral resources and to take appropriate measures to reduce environmental risks, should they wish to engage in the mining industry.
Speaking at the launch today in Noumea, New Caledonia, EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, H.E Andrew Jacobs said: ''Deep Sea Mining is a developing industry in the Pacific and this very timely project seeks to ensure the establishment of regulatory frameworks that will ensure the equitable use of mining revenues and environmental protection.
''The Pacific is leading the way in this nascent industry. As Pacific countries have vast exclusive economic zones but limited land masses, deep sea minerals could play an important role in spurring sustainable economic growth and development, if managed prudently,'' Ambassador Jacobs said.
In welcoming the new frameworks, the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Commissioner, Paul Lynch, said the Cook Islands was very pleased that SPC had responded to numerous stakeholder requests for the development of these two important resources.
“Along with other Pacific Island states, we’ve been able to meaningfully contribute to these critical foundation documents. They will, in very real, practical ways, assist our communities and decision-makers in our individual countries to continue to make good, informed decisions on if, how and when to develop our respective national DSM frameworks and resources, as the international DSM sector continues to make steady progress,” Mr Lynch said.
The frameworks were released during the 46th meeting of SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) in the presence of representatives of more than 25 countries.
“With growing interest in deep sea mineral resources in the Pacific Islands region, the development of relevant legal instruments to govern and administer deep seabed resources is critical and requires scientific and technical expertise,” the Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, said.
“Of particular importance is the formulation of financial management and oversight to govern and administer these resources, and the incorporation of environmental management components in policies and legislation to ensure sound and responsible management of deep sea mineral resources balanced with potential social and other impacts,” Dr Tukuitonga said.
The two frameworks are available on the Deep Sea Minerals Project website at:
Regional Financial Framework gsd.spc.int/dsm/images/public_files_2016/RFF2016.pdf
Regional Environmental Framework gsd.spc.int/dsm/images/public_files_2016/REMF2016.pdf
What are deep sea minerals?
These are mineral deposits that occur on the seafloor, and/or under the seabed, in the deeper part of the ocean, that may be extracted economically. These deposits can have high concentrations of metals such as copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, cobalt, nickel and platinum.
About the project
Implemented since 2011, the EU-SPC Deep Sea Minerals Project promotes a consultative and multi-stakeholder approach in implementing deep sea minerals activities in the Pacific Islands region.
It has been assisting its 15 participating Pacific ACP (Africa Caribbean Pacific) States through capacity development and the distribution of relevant information to support informed decision making and governance in accordance with international law, with particular attention to the protection of the marine environment and securing equitable financial arrangements for the benefit of Pacific people.
The two frameworks are available on the Deep Sea Minerals Project website at gsd.spc.int/dsm/images/public_files_2016/RFF2016.pdf
EU-SPC Deep Sea Minerals Project http://gsd.spc.int/dsm
Deep Sea Minerals media fact sheet
15 March 2016
Suva, Fiji – Government and community consultations in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu over managing future opportunities and potential risks associated with the nascent deep sea mining industry are featured in a new film.
The short film, "Breaking the Surface: The Future of Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific", takes a regional focus to highlight the two countries’ consultation processes and efforts to explore this emerging industry’s potential.
It was commissioned by the European Union in collaboration with the Pacific Community (SPC) through the regional "Deep Sea Minerals Project".
Papua New Guinea, being the only Pacific nation to issue a deep sea mining license to date, looks likely to be the first country in the world to begin the pioneering of deep sea mining.
This film showcases how its government has been consulting local communities and national stakeholders about its plans to manage the development of this new industry and that it has designated a coastal area of benefit in an effort to recognise coastal communities living nearest to offshore mining activities.
Similarly, Vanuatu has been undertaking detailed consultations with their communities on deep sea minerals management and development and it has just completed a full national consultation process to inform the development of the country’s deep sea minerals policy.
The short film, produced by Flinch Marketing Ltd, features interviews with Papua New Guinea’s Secretary of the Department of Mineral Policy and Geo-hazards Management, the Chairman of the Central West Coast Seabed Mining Landowner Association, and Vanuatu’s previous Minister for Lands and Natural Resources as well as the Executive Director of the National Council of Women.
It is the third in a series of films produced by the Deep Sea Minerals Project, following "Under Pressure" which examined different stakeholders’ perspectives involved with deep sea mineral resources in the Pacific, and “Out of Darkness", which focuses on environmental impacts of deep sea mining.
The films are available on the Deep Sea Minerals Project website: http://gsd.spc.int/dsm/index.php/12-videos/93-breaking-the-surface and the SPC YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W15_DpVdSpo
While deep sea mining has not commenced anywhere in the world, more than 300 exploration licences for deep sea minerals have already been granted throughout the Pacific. The Deep Sea Minerals Project is working closely with Pacific Island countries in developing national deep sea minerals policies and legislation.
The project has been supporting its 15 participating countries to ensure that the future management of their deep sea minerals resources is built on greater transparency and stronger public accountability, as well as ensuring any mining activity is carried out in accordance with international law, with particular attention to the protection of the marine environment and securing equitable financial arrangements for the benefit of Pacific people.
Participants of the workshop aboard the RV Haeyang 2000 of the Korea Hydrographic and Oceanographic Administration, docked in Busan, Korea.
14 December 2015
Busan, Korea- Marine science and marine scientific research play a critical role in the sustainable development of the oceans, seas and their resources.
This is consistently recognised by the United Nations General Assembly in its annual resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and by the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway adopted in 2014.
Marine scientific research is also at the core of the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ and the Sustainable Development Goal 14a officially adopted by the General Assembly in September 2015.
To address this, the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (DOALOS) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (IOC-UNESCO), in partnership with the Pacific Community (SPC) European Union supported Deep Sea Minerals Project and the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI), recently organised a first of its kind training workshop for Pacific Small Island Developing States government officials and scientists in Busan, Republic of Korea.
Participants from 13 Pacific Island states attended the training course which covered the legal, technical and scientific aspects related to the conduct of marine scientific research under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in particular with regards to the rights and obligations of coastal and researching states. Participants included government officials and scientists from both coastal and researching states.
“This training course is very significant as it enhances my skills and capacity to help my country embark on developing its marine scientific research policy and other relevant policies in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. I’ve identified gaps in our legislations dealing with marine scientific research, hence this training is supportive for improving and strengthening of such areas for the benefit of Vanuatu citizens,” Vanuatu’s Maritime and Ocean Affairs Division Desk Officer, Mr Roel Tari, said after the training.
Pacific leaders have identified the need to strengthen national capacities in marine scientific research, recognising the benefits that could be derived from investing more in this field as a means to increase scientific knowledge of the marine environment and support national and regional economic growth in marine sectors, such as shipping and offshore energy, as well as in security and defence.
It also creates enabling conditions for pioneering new and more sustainable routes for exploitation and technological development such as bioprospecting or deep seabed mining.
Increasing scientific knowledge and developing research capacity are also critical for ensuring the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
The week-long workshop included representatives from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The training teams included regional and international experts in their respective fields drawn from DOALOS, IOC-UNESCO, SPC, the University of the South Pacific and research institutes.
The workshop concluded on 11 December.
29 February 2016
Suva, Fiji – Various scenarios for mining deep sea minerals in the waters of three Pacific Island countries are assessed in a cost benefit analysis report commissioned by the Pacific Community (SPC) and the European Union.
The report aims to assist Pacific Island countries with their decision making concerning deep sea minerals and provide information about the potential magnitude of the impacts of deep sea mining.
The assessment, conducted by Cardno between February and October 2015, offers decision-makers insights into the potential constraints and challenges to achieving positive net benefits if deep sea minerals mining were to occur under current circumstances.
It is part of the European Union-supported Deep Sea Minerals Project, implemented by SPC, aimed at improving the governance and management of the deep-sea minerals resources of 15 Pacific states.
Based on the resource potential of three countries, the analysis considers the monetary value of all aspects of mining Seafloor Massive Sulphides in Papua New Guinea; Manganese Nodules in Cook Islands; and Cobalt-rich Crusts in Republic of the Marshall Islands.
“This cost-benefit analysis was initiated in consultation with Pacific Island nations to provide a better understanding of the costs and benefits likely to be associated with deep sea mining,” SPC’s Deep Sea Minerals Project Manager, Akuila Tawake, said.
“It’s all about helping Pacific nations make informed decisions should they wish to engage in this new industry,” he said.
Notably, the report found that seafloor massive sulphide mining in Papua New Guinea has benefits that significantly outweigh the costs.
Also, it revealed that a mining scenario in the Cook Islands (where four metals are recovered and the miner owns the operation and the processing facility in a country other than Cook Islands) has the highest net benefits.
However, the report states that crust-mining in the Marshall Islands, under the two scenarios considered, is currently not economically viable due to present metal prices, expected ore recovery, and the cost of technology.
The report concludes that as long as proper steps are taken to manage the wealth in the long-term and to transfer the environmental risk from the people of the host country to the mining company, there is a higher possibility of the social benefits outweighing the social costs.
Despite the study’s limited focus on three countries, it provides important findings and considerations that are applicable to other Pacific nations with similar deep sea mineral resources, Mr Tawake said.
The report, An Assessment of the Costs and Benefits of Mining Deep- Sea Minerals in the Pacific Island region, can be accessed at http://gsd.spc.int/dsm/index.php/publications-and-reports
Photo Caption: Sampling seafloor massive sulphides during exploration in Papua New Guinea.
Photo Credit: Nautilus Minerals
20 November 2015
Yaren, Nauru- By passing its International Seabed Minerals Bill on 23 October 2015 the Government of Nauru becomes one of the few countries in the world to have an Act governing its engagement in seabed mineral activities undertaken within international waters known as ‘the Area’.
The Nauru Justice Department has been working closely with the Pacific Community (SPC) - European Union supported Deep Sea Minerals Project, seeking legal and technical advice and assistance in the lead up to the enactment of this Act.
The project provides advice and assistance to 15 Pacific Island governments, promoting the carrying out of seabed mineral activities in accordance with international law requirements, with particular attention to the protection of the marine environment and securing equitable financial arrangements for the benefit of the Pacific people.
“This new law established by Nauru is critical in the administration of its seabed minerals activities in the Area and is a great model for other Pacific Island States wishing to engage in the Area,” SPC’s Deep Sea Minerals Project Manager, Mr Akuila Tawake said.
“Prior to engaging in any seabed activities, it is important that countries have regulations and terms governing their engagement to ensure whatever activities that are conducted are environmentally safe and generate proper financial returns that will be collected and managed responsibly,” Mr Tawake added.
The International Seabed Minerals Act ensures that measures are taken for Nauru to exercise its effective control on contractors when conducting seabed mineral activities in the Area and at the same time adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).
To effectively control contractors, the Act promotes good governance by establishing a Nauru Seabed Minerals Authority which will be responsible for monitoring and managing Nauru’s involvement with seabed mineral activities. Revenues generated will be vested into a ‘Seabed Minerals Fund’ established by the Act, which will be managed for the benefit of the Nauruans.
The Act recognises the seabed resources of the Area are the common heritage of mankind and therefore, prospective activities can only be conducted via sponsorship of a member State of the ISA, party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Accordingly, the Act provides that measures undertaken within Nauru’s control will be on the basis of the Rules of the ISA. The Act also acknowledges the ISA’s responsibility under the UNCLOS to process applications, to monitor activities and to adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of exploration and mining activities.
Nauru was the first Pacific Island State to express interest in engaging seabed minerals activities in the Area, which the Act provides for by allowing Nauru to either sponsor directly or in partnership with a body corporate (registered in Nauru) to apply to the ISA to conduct exploration activities.
Alongside Nauru, Tonga and Kiribati have also engaged in exploration activities in the Area.