New Zealand’s environmental protection authority has declined an application to mine phosphate on the chatham rise in a move that sets a precedent for deep sea mining in other parts of the world including the Cook Islands.
The company wanted to mine three 10 square kilometre blocks per year; mining would have been at depths of up to 450 metres.
The authority’s decision said the mining would cause significant and permanent adverse effects on the seabed environment. This included rare ecosystems including stony corals.
The authority said there would have been destructive effects from the extraction process, as well as from the deposit of sediment from the mined area.
It said the economic benefit to New Zealand from the mining proposal would be modest at best.
The rejection highlights potential issues that the Cook Islands needs to take into account when considering proposals for deep sea mining of minerals in Cook Island waters. This is particularly true because of the importance of tourism to the Cook Island economy, anything that jeopardises the Cook Islands reputation for sparkling crystal clear waters must be considered carefully.