Cook Islands Seabed Minerals (SBM) Authority have confirmed that Prime Minister Mark Brown recently visited Aitutaki to carry out consultations on the seabed minerals (SBM) sector.
The consultations are part of Government’s ongoing engagement with Cook Islands communities to ensure they are aware of SBM developments and have an opportunity to share their views.
The delegation included the SBM Authority and SBM Advisory Committee members. Joining the delegation were licence holder representatives from CIC, CSR and Moana Minerals, who were available to answer the public’s questions on their respective exploration programmes. The delegation met with the Aitutaki Island Council, Aronga Mana, Religious Advisory Council and non-governmental organisation representatives, and also held two public consultations in Arutanga and Vaipae.
PM Brown provided updates on the Cook Island Exploration Programme, explaining that over the next couple of years, there would be research studies undertaken to collect environmental baseline data, which would lead to a better understanding of the potential environmental impacts of minerals harvesting.
Brown highlighted that during the exploration phase, there would be other benefits for the country through the use of local goods and services, as well as jobs and training for Cook Islanders.
However, he made clear that no decisions would be made yet on whether to move to the minerals harvesting phase, as this will be based on a technical assessment of the information gathered during exploration.
“Overall, I was pleased to receive the support from Araura Enua and to be able to have a conversation about the issues that are of interest and concern as we continue to carefully and cautiously develop our SBM sector,” PM Brown said.
During the consultations, the members of the public were able to share their views, questions and any concerns they had about developments in the SBM sector.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the Cook Islands Government is taking the right approach with the precautionary approach, we can’t be too careful,” said a Tautu resident. “It’s great to explore and research what’s on our seabed. More to find out and understand what we have and how it may benefit our country. Something we can implement in our teaching and learning in our schools,” shared an Amuri resident.