Workshop helps islands formulate minerals and mining laws
With the impending natural resources boom in and around the Pacific Islands, it is important that islands’ administrations are brought up to speed with necessary legislations and processes to protect their interests.<!--more-->
Changes to the United Nations Law of the Sea will greatly extend the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Pacific Island nations, putting larger swathes of the ocean’s surface and the ocean floor beneath under their sovereign jurisdictions than ever before.
Large areas of what formerly were the world’s common areas with severe restrictions on commercial exploitation will come under the control of islands’ administrations, throwing the door open for negotiations between distant nations, the private sector and the islands for mining licenses.
Last week, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) division SOPAC held a Deep Sea Mineral Project workshop in Fiji with ministers and officials of Forum island nations in attendance.
Countries like Timor Leste have no laws on mining and exploitation of mineral resources in place and stand to lose millions of dollars if they are not careful with regulating commercial exploitation in a manner that benefits their people and has a minimal impact on the environment.
“What was presented in the workshop provided opportunities that I will take back to the country and share with the Secretary of National Resources. It is a first step towards developing mining laws,” Timor Leste’s representative Vincent da Costa Pinto said at the Fiji workshop.
The region’s newest nation is considering copper mining as well as exploring its seabed from precious and semi-precious metals, with a growing number of major players in the industry showing interest in the sector.