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

People & Company News

U.S. Marshalls Ordered to Seize Kurdish Oil Cargo off Texas

Acting on a request from the central government in Iraq, a U.S. judge has signed an order telling the U.S. Marshals Service to seize a cargo of oil from Iraqi Kurdistan

Diana Containerships Q2 & 1H 2014 Financial Results

Greece-based Diana Containerships Inc., a global shipping company specializing in the ownership of containerships, has reported net income of $0.6 million for the second quarter of 2014,

Mercator Lines Profit Hit by Low Bulk Freight Rate

Mercator Lines (Singapore) reported a revenue of US$ 16.5 million for Q1 2015, an increase of 19% as compared to correspoding period in the previous previous year, however a net loss of US$ 7.

Technology

LiveCom Selects iDirect Evolution to Enable Global Expansion

iDirect Asia Pte Ltd today announced that LiveCom Limited (“LiveCom”), a Hong Kong based ISP, has selected Evolution as the platform to help enterprise and government

FLNG Prelude: A New Dawn in the Age of Maritime & Energy

Longer than four football fields, as big as six Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and almost as tall as the Taipei 101 skyscraper, Royal Dutch Shell PLC is hoping that its record-setting,

Desulfurization of Exhaust Gases in Shipping

Are shipowners prepared to enter SECA zones?   Due to existing regulations on air exhaust emissions from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and with

Offshore

FLNG Prelude: A New Dawn in the Age of Maritime & Energy

Longer than four football fields, as big as six Nimitz-class aircraft carriers and almost as tall as the Taipei 101 skyscraper, Royal Dutch Shell PLC is hoping that its record-setting,

Corvus Energy, GMC Close Financing Agreement

Corvus Energy today announced that it has completed a strategic investment by Green Marine Capital (GMC) previously announced on May 5, 2014. Green Marine Capital,

Valemon Topsides Installed

On Monday, July 28, the topsides were lifted into place on the steel jacket on the Valemon field in the North Sea. Produced by Samsung Heavy Industries this is

Environmental

Control of Emission from Vessels in Hong Kong Waters

Amendments to the Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (Cap. 313) and the Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Ordinance (Cap. 548) to enhance the control of dark

Desulfurization of Exhaust Gases in Shipping

Are shipowners prepared to enter SECA zones?   Due to existing regulations on air exhaust emissions from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and with

Valemon Topsides Installed

On Monday, July 28, the topsides were lifted into place on the steel jacket on the Valemon field in the North Sea. Produced by Samsung Heavy Industries this is

Government Update

Control of Emission from Vessels in Hong Kong Waters

Amendments to the Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (Cap. 313) and the Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) Ordinance (Cap. 548) to enhance the control of dark

UN Throws the Book at North Korea Ship Operator

A U.N. Security Council committee on Monday blacklisted the operator of a North Korean ship, which was seized near the Panama Canal last year for smuggling Soviet-era arms,

Tripoli Airport Ablaze, Rockets Leave Libya in Chaos

Diplomats flee Libyan chaos; Politicians appeal for international intervention. Clashes in Tripoli, Benghazi kill around 160 over two weeks, while Libyan capital face fuel, power shortages.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Naval Architecture Navigation Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
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: 0.1449 sec (7 req/sec)