Deep Seabed Minerals: A New Frontier in the Pacific Region

Issue & Policy Briefs April 10, 2013, No.121

Minerals, such as rare earth metals, are increasingly becoming an important commodity in a resource-constrained world economy. As a result new frontiers both onshore and offshore, to the depths of the ocean, are emerging around the world. The Pacific region stands at the forefront of this pioneering venture. Yet concerns abound about the environmental impacts of future offshore mining projects on deep sea ecosystems. With limited experience in managing extractive resources and embryonic capacities to oversee offshore activities, Pacific Island Governments must remain cautious in making decisions about whether to engage with seabed mining activities, and consider how to do so in the best and long-term interest of their nations. Conscious of the opportunities but also the risks, States in the Pacific Islands region have recently embarked on a regional initiative. This initiative is the development of policy and legislative regimes to manage seabed mining activities, with the assistance of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the European Union.

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