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The Pacific Centre for Social Responsibility and Natural Resources workshop – July 2023

On 10th July, JTPac’s Nick Bainton, Emilka Skrzypek and Pierre-Yves Le Meur a PACSEN network workshop at the University of South Pacific in the Cook Islands. PACSEN is a research network created to contribute to the development of integrated, responsible and sustainable management of natural resources in the Pacific. The workshop brought together researchers, civil society and government representatives in a discussion around seabed mining prospects in the Cook Islands

Seabed mineral exploration began in the Cook Islands’ EEZ in the 1960s, and by the 1970s surveys revealed significant resources of polymetallic nodules. These nodules are so rich in four essential metals needed for building batteries (cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese) that they are often called ‘a battery in a rock’.Currently, three companies are conducting seabed mining exploration in Cook Island’s waters. Their activities are overseen by the Cook Islands Seabed Mining Authority – a government unit specifically focused on seabed minerals and mining.

Participants offered different perspectives on opportunities but also concerns related to this form of development in the Cook Islands, as wider Pacific, in a discussion that focused on issues such as governance, permitting process, seabed mining technology, and the challenge of assessing social and environmental impacts of this still experimental mining technology.