Participants of the deep sea minerals policy and legislation training  in Apia, Samoa

19 May 2015
Apia, Samoa –The Government of Samoa is this week hosting a regional workshop on deep sea minerals policy and legislative drafting organised with the Pacific Community (SPC).

Funded by the European Union, the training workshop is bringing together 60 government representatives from 13 Pacific Island countries to improve their understanding of the international legal regime for deep sea minerals activities and their policy formulation and legislative drafting skills.

As global interest in deep sea minerals increases, particularly in the Pacific region, effective policy and legal development are seen as vital to ensure that any deep sea mineral activities are conducted and managed in compliance with international standards and best environmental practices.

The three major deep sea mineral deposits that are attracting commercial interest include seafloor massive sulphides (which contain high concentrations of metals such as copper, gold, silver, zinc and lead), manganese nodules and cobalt-rich crusts.

All three mineral deposits occur in the Exclusive Economic Zones of many Pacific Island countries and are increasingly being recognised as a potential source of revenue and economic development.

“The Samoa Government is privileged to host this regional workshop that is aimed to elevate the standard of deep sea minerals policy and legislative development and would like to thank SPC and the European Union for their continuous support provided to our country as we learn more about this emerging area,” the Government of Samoa’s Assistant Attorney General, Loretta Teueli, said.

Few countries in the world have taken the vital legal steps to ensure that regulatory frameworks are in place to regulate and monitor deep sea minerals activities, so the Pacific is leading the way, according to SPC’s Deep Sea Minerals Project Manager, Akuila Tawake.

“This workshop is aligned with one of the strategic objectives of the Deep Sea Minerals Project which is to prepare Pacific Island countries wanting to engage in deep sea mining activities to effectively regulate and manage the activities carried out under their responsibility,” Mr Tawake said.

The intensive workshop is taking place from 18 to 22 May in Apia as part of the SPC-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project: http://gsd.spc.int/dsm/. The Project involves 15 Pacific Community members who are part of the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) grouping.

Media contact
Marie Bourrel SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project Legal Advisor (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) +679 324 9292

 

                                                     Participants of the Republic of the Marshall Islands consultations in Ebeye

24 April 2015

Ebeye, Republic of the Marshall Islands-The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), with the assistance of the Pacific Community(SPC)–European Union (EU) Deep Sea Minerals Project, has commenced public consultations on deep sea minerals, with a particular emphasis on the draft national Deep Sea Minerals Policy and Seabed Management Bill, which will be submitted to the RMI cabinet in June 2015.

Government representatives, national agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), churches, members of parliament, the Council of Iroij and communities took part in the consultations, which were held in Majuro and Ebeye between 22 and 24 April 2015.

The main objective of these consultations was for the government to present the vision, goals and objectives of the draft national Deep Sea Minerals Policy and in the contents of the Seabed Management Bill.

This was also an opportune time for the government to raise awareness of the opportunities for the country to engage with the deep sea minerals industry, with the view of discussing alternative sources of revenue that will be used for the well-being of the people.

These consultations highlight the government’s commitment to ensuring public participation and transparency, and addressing the concerns of all stakeholders.
“We would like to applaud the RMI government's effort in facilitating an open and inclusive process for its new Deep Sea Minerals Policy and Seabed Management Bill,” said the EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs.

“Dialogue and discussion on commercial exploitation of Deep Sea Minerals with a wide range of stakeholders helps build the necessary trust and understanding between different parties on a sensitive subject,” the Ambassador added.

“The involvement of all of the people of RMI, including local communities, is key in the approach followed by the government to move forward with the Deep Sea Minerals industry”, said Secretary of the Ministry of Resources and Development of RMI, Rebecca Lorennij.

“We are extremely grateful to SPC and the EU for the support and assistance provided to RMI and we want to believe that this partnership will continue and enable the Republic of the Marshall Islands to build its expertise and capacities with the view of managing and regulating this new industry for the benefit of Marshall Islands people,” the Secretary added.

The Deep Sea Minerals Project supports this broad consultation, and offers technical advice and assistance to its 15 participating Pacific countries, providing accurate information and guidance through awareness programmes and workshops at both the national and regional level, to ensure that countries have relevant information to make informed decisions.

A consultative approach is vital in the formulation of any policy or national framework, as the public’s views and concerns must be taken into account before an agreement is made.

The RMI awareness-raising meetings coincide with the development of a new series of videos the Deep Sea Minerals Project has made, to answer frequently asked questions regarding deep sea mining.

The “Q&A Videos” feature world-renowned experts in deep sea mining, and are specifically designed to increase the public’s understanding of deep sea mining activities in the Pacific region.

The first Q&A Video features Cindy Van Dover, a professor of Biological Oceanography at Duke University in the United States and an expert on deep ocean exploration, who answers questions such as: What kind of organisms lives near deep sea vents? Why is it important to learn about these organisms? Why should scientists be involved in commercial mining activities? and What can be done to minimise the impacts of mining?

The video shows underwater footage from seafloor massive sulphide sites bringing to life the surrounding environment, and is available on the Deep Sea Minerals Project’s website: http://gsd.spc.int/dsm/index.php/q-a.

Media Contact:
Marie Bourrel, Deep Sea Minerals Project Legal Advisor, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +679 324 9292
Ends.

17 February 2015

 Suva, Fiji– While deep sea mining is yet to commence in the region, Pacific Island countries are proactively developing legal instruments to ensure appropriate management of their deep sea mineral resources, with particular attention to the protection of the marine environment.

Tuvalu has become the fourth Pacific country to enact specific legislation for deep sea mineral activities, alongside the Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga.  

With technical assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Tuvalu has set new standards, with its Seabed Minerals Act 2014 which requires coastal communities to not only be consulted prior to the approval of mining projects within Tuvalu’s waters, but also for any mining project Tuvalu sponsors in international waters.

Tuvalu’s Attorney General, Ese Apinelu, said that Parliament is pleased to have contributed to this development which will strongly enhance the sustainable management of Tuvalu’s deep sea resources.

“I’m hopeful that we’re witnessing the beginning of a trend that will accelerate new policies and initiatives. I’m thankful for assistance provided by the Deep Sea Minerals Project which has now equipped Tuvalu with a set of tools that will allow us to maximise the benefits of deep sea minerals for our people,” Attorney General Apinelu said.

A partnership between SPC and the European Union, the pioneering Deep Sea Minerals Project is assisting Pacific Island states by providing technical advice and assistance to enable them to make informed decisions about deep seabed mining.

Deep sea minerals, such as sea floor massive sulphides, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and manganese nodules located in international waters can only be accessed via sponsorship of a State.

Kiribati, through its State-owned company, Marawa Research Exploration Limited, last month signed a contract with the International Seabed Authority and, by doing so, joined Nauru and Tonga; countries that have also signed contracts for exploration in international waters.

This latest contract is for an exploration license for polymetallic nodules in the clarion clipperton fracture zone in the east Pacific.

Kiribati’s Mineral Development Officer, Tebete England, thanked SPC and the EU for their assistance.

“This is a great milestone we’ve achieved.  In addition, Kiribati is undertaking public consultation on a draft Deep Sea Mining Policy and is drafting specific deep sea minerals legislation with the assistance of the Deep Sea Minerals Project,” Ms England said. 

The Head of the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Ambassador Andrew Jacobs, commended the Governments of Tuvalu and Kiribati for their recent achievements in the deep sea mining industry.

“The formulation of new legislation for Tuvalu and the issuance of an exploration license for Kiribati augurs well for the industry in the region.

“These achievements once again reflect the leading role the EU-SPC Deep Sea Minerals Project has in the sustainable management of seabed minerals on the Pacific's ocean floor and we’re proud of the project in this regard," Ambassador Jacobs said.

Deep sea mining has the potential to provide developing island States with much needed revenue to address development issues but this must be balanced against social and environmental considerations, SPC’s Geoscience Division Director, Professor Mike Petterson said.

“SPC will continue to work with the countries to develop the legal instruments required and assist with capacity building and awareness raising programs in this fascinating, emerging area,” Professor Petterson said.

Progress to improve the to improve the governance and management of their deep-sea minerals resources in accordance with international law, with particular attention to the protection of the marine environment and securing equitable financial arrangements for Pacific Island countries and their people of these 15 Pacific Island nations is among the on-ground benefits to Pacific communities to be highlighted during the EU Year for Development 2015.

 

Media contacts

Marie Bourrel       Deep Sea Minerals Project Legal advisor ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) +679 3249292

Debbie Singh        Press Officer, Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) +679 330 0370 

 

Useful links

SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals Project: www.sopac.org/dsm

EU Year of Development 2015: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/fiji/

(Caption: Manganese Nodule deposit. Photo courtesy of Ifremer/Nautil, Nodinaut (2004)

 

 

 

 

Participants of the 2nd Geoscience Steering Group Committee in Nadi

16 April 2015
Nadi, Fiji- To overcome common challenges in maintaining and developing new skills in core geological functions, representatives of 18 Pacific Community members have been meeting in Fiji this week.

Convened by the Pacific Community (SPC), a three-day meeting of thePacific regional Geoscience Steering Group ends in Nadi today.

Geological data and expertise serve important roles such as generating wealth and employment, extending energy opportunities for rural populations, reducing dependence on imported oil, and addressing key issues such as environment, infrastructure development, transport, risk and geohazard assessment, urbanisation and quality of life.

Built up over many years, there is significant capability in several Pacific Island countries in terms of trained expertise and data such as geological maps, databases, reports, studies, and rock, mineral and fossil collections.

However, the Geoscience Steering Group is concerned that loss of national geoscience capabilities within the Pacific region could lead to reliance on external expertise.

Furthermore, this lack of capacity could deny Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) with sound expert geological advice that decision makers should be getting for informed decision making.

The Steering Group wants to raise the profile of applied geoscience as a key tool for sustainable development, and awareness of the contribution of geoscience to development across the Pacific region.

This initiative is targeting policy and decision makers as well as development partners.

Another aim of the Steering Group is to develop a strong network of national, regional and international geoscience professionals and share relevant information.

SPC’s Geoscience Division initiated the Steering Group last year, recognising that geological data and expertise are essential to address many development challenges of the Pacific.

This initiative is part of SPC’s effort in collaboration with member countries and development partners to contribute to sustainable development in the Pacific region.

The Pacific Island countries and territories participating in the meeting this week are Fiji, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Timor Leste, Vanuatu, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu.

Advisers from Australia, New Zealand and United States of America, as well as SPC, are also taking part in the meeting.

The group organised its first meeting last year, bringing together targeted practitioners from eight Pacific nations and SPC to discuss which aspects of geoscience the region should focus on and how to continue building capabilities.

 

Tuesday 18 November 2014, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji –

 

The SPC-EU Deep Sea Minerals (DSM) Project, a partnership between the European Union and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), is holding a National Deep Sea Minerals Training Workshop from 17–20 November 2014 in Dili, Timor Leste.

 SPC is working closely with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in Timor Leste to organise this workshop. The objective is to develop and enhance the knowledge of relevant stakeholders in Timor Leste on the geological, technological, biological, environmental and legal aspects of deep-sea mining.

 'This training workshop is requested by the Government of Timor Leste, and the DSM Project is happy to organise and be part of this event,' said Mr Akuila Tawake, DSM Project Manager. 'This is an excellent opportunity to share deep-sea minerals information with in-country stakeholders and discuss how we can provide legal and   technical assistance to Timor Leste,' he added. 

 'We are indeed pleased to have the Deep Sea Minerals Project workshop hosted in Timor Leste,' said EU Head of Delegation to Timor Leste, Ms. Sylvie Tabesse. She added, 'Deep-sea mining can be a contentious issue, particularly if people are not well informed.

 'The workshop will aim to address this and we hope that this will lay a solid platform for policy-makers to make informed decisions that encapsulate economic growth with sustainable development,' she explained.

 Accompanying the DSM Project team, Dr James Hein, a senior scientist at the US Geological Survey, will be the key expert presenting at the workshop. Dr Hein has 40 years’ work experience as a marine geologist and has studied deep-sea minerals in many parts of the world.

 About 50 participants are expected to attend this training workshop, representing government agencies, the private sector, civil society organisations and local communities. One representative from the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) will also attend the workshop to share his experiences on the PNG Solwara 1 Project, set to become the first deep-sea mining in the world.

The DSM Project is assisting the 15 Pacific ACP States, including Timor Leste, to put in place the necessary legal instruments to regulate DSM activities and develop regional frameworks that can be used by these countries. The DSM Project conducts training workshops and organises other capacity building initiatives to enable these countries to effectively engage in DSM activities.   

 

Ends

 


 

 

For more information, visit www.sopac.org/dsm or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Caption: His Excellency Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Mr Alfredo Pires addressing the participants of the Timor Leste National DSM Workshop.

 Secretariat of the Pacific Community

SPC works in the following sectors: fisheries, agriculture, forestry, water resources, geoscience, transport, energy, climate change and disaster risk management, public health, statistics, education, human rights, gender, youth and culture. 

SPC member countries and territories: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, France, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States of America, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.