Seabed mineral exploration licences approved in the Cook Islands – by Caleb Fotheringham (RNZ – March 13, 2022)

Five kilometres deep on the Cook Islands seafloor, potato-shaped rocks pave the bottom loaded with expensive minerals like cobalt, copper, manganese and nickel. They’re called polymetallic nodules and three weeks ago the Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown referred to them as “golden apples”.

Brown made the comment during an official signing ceremony where three companies were awarded a seabed minerals exploration licence. The licence allows the companies to see if mining is a viable option which includes reviewing the environmental risks associated with the task.

Brown, who is also the Minister for the Seabed Minerals Authority, compares the Cook Islands situation to Norway – a country that enjoys some of the highest standards of living in the world, made possible through abundant natural resources.

Brown sees the expensive minerals bringing infrastructure improvements to airports, ports and schools. The Pa Enua (outer islands) will have drinking water security – something that’s always been a challenge but has been made worse through climate change.

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