Race for seabed mineral wealth taking off worldwide
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The following examples demonstrate that the race has begun. The Toronto-based Nautilus Minerals Inc.8 received its first production license for the Solwara 1 project from Papua New Guinea in January 2011 and has pending applications for the EEZ of Fiji and other places. Sydney-based Neptune Minerals is exploring the seabed off New Zealand. De Beers of South Africa, an offshore diamond miner, is adapting its technology for similar projects in the Coral Sea.9 The Dutch firm “OceanflORE” is elaborating a project study for the exploitation of phosphorites off the coast of New Zealand while the US Geological Service is working on an inventory of the seabed riches of Pacific territories and associated states in the area. A poor Pacific island may become a bonanza. A tiny island or a reef and a rock may become the trigger of a maritime clash, ending up in an incident or a military occupation.
If the U.S. does not ratify UNCLOS, it risks losing the remaining three possible seabed mining sites, with billions in the strategic minerals manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel at stake. A single seabed mining operation would spur the economy with total capital purchases of close to one and a half billion dollars and would stimulate robust job creation.