New Zealand Mulls Ocean Floor Mining Proposal

Posted by George Backwell
Monday, June 16, 2014
Ocean Floor: Image credit Pixabay CCL

New Zealand decides this week whether to approve an underwater iron-ore operation that would likely become the world's first commercial metals mine at the bottom of the sea.

A green light to allow New Zealand's Trans Tasman Resources Ltd to start iron-ore dredging off the country's west coast will encourage others looking to mine copper, cobalt, manganese and other metals deeper on the ocean floor but worried about regulatory hurdles.

Along the Pacific Rim of Fire, as deep as 6,000 metres underwater, volcano crusts, "black smoker" chimneys and vast beds of manganese nodules hold promise for economic powers like China and Japan as well as many poor island states busy pegging stakes on the ocean floor.

"A lot of people are watching the Trans Tasman Resources outcome," said Michael Johnston, chief executive of Nautilus Minerals, which is working on a deep-sea project off Papua New Guinea and is also in talks with New Zealand.

Other countries in the Pacific looking at underwater mining include Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, which have all issued exploration licenses. Cook Islands in the South Pacific plans to put seabed exploration licenses up for bids later this year.

In the 750,000 sq km (290,000 square miles) of territorial waters around the Cook Islands are mineral nodules the size of potatoes to lettuce heads and rich in manganese and cobalt, a resource Imperial College marine geoscientist David Cronan estimates at 10 billion tonnes.

"If only 10 percent of that resource can be recovered it will be one of the largest mineral deposits ever discovered. It is a world class mineral deposit," says the Cook Islands National Seabed Minerals Policy, approved on June 10.

The push to explore the ocean is gaining momentum as ore grades on land decline and demand grows for metals in high-tech applications, and is more feasible now with the help of technology developed for the deepwater oil and gas industry.

Still, there are technological hurdles and fears among scientists and environmentalists that mining could destroy fragile fisheries and exotic creatures at the bottom of the ocean.

"Deep sea mining is coming faster than the scientific community can monitor it," said Carlos Duarte, director of the University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute.

Trans Tasman Resources, which hopes to start mining in 2016, already has a mining licence but needs a marine consent from New Zealand's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The is the EPA's first test of regulating mining in the country's territorial waters. Its next is an application from Chatham Rock Phosphate Ltd, seeking to mine phosphate several hundred kilometres off the east coast of the South Island.

(By Sonali Paul and Gyles Beckford)

Maritime Reporter November 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Damen Responds to Evolving Fishing Practices

Maaskant Shipyards Stellendam meets fishing sector’s growing needs by performing electric pulse fishing conversions   As European fishing policies evolve, so fishing techniques advance.

Maaskant Shipyards Earns ISO 9001:2008 Certificate

Maaskant Shipyards (Stellendam), part of Damen Shipyards Group, has received certification from Bureau Veritas for aligning its quality and management systems with

Duffy Named President of Carnival Cruise Line

Christine Duffy has been named president of Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corporation & plc. announced today.   Duffy, currently president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA),

Technology

Damen Responds to Evolving Fishing Practices

Maaskant Shipyards Stellendam meets fishing sector’s growing needs by performing electric pulse fishing conversions   As European fishing policies evolve, so fishing techniques advance.

First ShipArrestor System Delivered in Norway

Following a full product trial in New Zealand, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) has signed its acceptance of the first of two ShipArrestor systems from Miko Marine,

Vard Wins Farstad's OSCV Contract

Vard Holdings Limited (“VARD”) has secured a contract for the design and construction of one Offshore Subsea Construction Vessel (“OSCV”) for Farstad Shipping (“Farstad”).

Offshore

FPSO Trio Receives Side Shell Protection

SPS Overlay has yet again been used for side impact protection on three FPSOs for a major player in the offshore industry. The work was carried out at Enseada do Paraguaçu S.

Vard Wins Farstad's OSCV Contract

Vard Holdings Limited (“VARD”) has secured a contract for the design and construction of one Offshore Subsea Construction Vessel (“OSCV”) for Farstad Shipping (“Farstad”).

US Jury Rules in Favor of Apache Corp.

Apache Corp was not in breach of contract in a lawsuit brought by Houston-based oil and gas producer W&T Offshore Inc in 2011, a federal jury found on Monday, according to a court filing.

Environmental

Becker Marine Delivers Rudder for Largest Containership

Becker Marine Systems delivers rudder for the largest container ship in the world   At 19,000 TEU, the largest container ship in the world is now picking up speed

Port of Amsterdam to Reward Green Barges

The cleaner the vessels, the larger the discount on Inland Harbour Dues. Port of Amsterdam will be joining the Green Award program for inland barges on January 1,

BSEE Attends Arctic Council Meeting

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) David M. Moore recently traveled to Seattle, Wash., for a meeting of the Arctic Council Emergency Prevention,

Government Update

Container Volumes on the Rise in South Carolina

Container volume up 13 percent at South Carolina Ports Authority; Charleston benefiting from federal appropriations    The SC Ports Authority announced another

Obama Urged to Help Resolve Port Negotiations

In a letter today to President Barack Obama, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) urged the president to take the necessary steps to assign federal

ICS Alters Position on Ballast Water Convention

The global trade association for merchant shipowners, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), has modified its stance towards the ratification by governments

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Pipelines Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2227 sec (4 req/sec)