TONGA CAN BENEFIT FROM DEEP SEA RESOURCES
There’s a possibility that Tonga will be able to benefit from its deep sea resources because of the regime that has been established by the law of the sea. Regulations for Deep Seabed Mining planned by the end of 2020, will enable investment, the Secretary General of the International Seabed Authority Mr Michael W. Lodge explained in Nuku‘alofa yesterday, 12 February.
Mr Lodge said the ISA has a commitment to put in place the Regulation on Deep Seabed Mining by 2020.
He pointed out that investment in Deep Seabed Mining “will not come until a Regulation is in place”.
Mr Lodge is in Nuku’alofa this week for a capacity building workshop on deep seabed mining, part of a process of preparing countries that are members of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) forthe ISA’s Regulation on DSM to be put in place in 2020.
He expressed his hope that the Pacific Islands Countries will encourage scientific research within the region and help to understand exactly what resources are out there.
“The first step to sustainably managing a resource is to understand it, and that is what we are pushing. We are not recommending that everybody should go mining or not.
“What we want to promote, is that countries need to have a very good understanding of what potential resources they have got, both in their own waters and outside. Because, it is true, there is still a lot that we don’t know.”
He emphasized that we can only benefit from scientific research if the research is shared, the knowledge is distributed to all countries, but not to keep the scientific research with the scientists.
He stressed that it is a very important part of the role of ISA to make sure that the benefit of the scientific research is shared.
The most common source of minerals in the Pacific is polymetallic nodules, a very good source of some very important metals.
“They are very good source of some very important metals. They have copper, cobalt, manganese, nikel. What is unique about them is that all those four different kinds of metals occur in the same piece of rock. Whereas on land you have to have one mine for copper, one for nikel and another for cobalt. Here we are talking about polymetallic…If you can figure out how to process them efficiently you can get three or four metals for the price of one. That is one of the major attraction of this industry.”
All the 14 members of the Pacific Islands Forum, including Tonga are members of ISA.
Tonga however, became a member of the Council of ISA in 2014. Tonga’s four-years term ended in 2018, then it was re-elected for another four years term from 2019 to 2023.
Tonga’s Seabed Minerals Act 2014 was enacted by King Tupou VI on 20 August 2014.
“The Act provide for the management of Tonga’s Seabed Minerals, and the Regulation of exploration and Mining Activities within the Kingdom’s jurisdiction under the Kingdom’s control outside of National Jurisdiction, in line with the Kingdom’s responsibilities under International Law,” Mr Lodge said.
The International Seabed Authority ISA is an organization through which parties to UNCLOS shall organize and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area.
The international seabed area represents about 54% of the total area of the world’s oceans.
Worldwide the mining of the seabed in International Territorial Water has not been carried out.
Tonga’s Seabed Minerals Act 2014 was enacted by Tupou VI on 20 August 2014.
“The Act provide for the management of Tonga’s Seabed Minerals, and the Regulation of exploration and Mining Activities within the Kingdom’s jurisdiction or under the Kingdom’s control outside of National Jurisdiction, in line with the Kingdom’s responsibilities under International Law.”