If Sea Min­ing is Good for Ja­maica, why not for St Lu­cia?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

Michael Lodge, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Se­abed Au­thor­ity (ISA)—cre­ated in 1982 by the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea, with head­quar­ters in Kingston—has cited op­por­tu­ni­ties for small is­land states like Ja­maica to ben­e­fit from se­abed min­ing. He said that 29 ex­ploratory li­cences have been is­sued by the ISA up to now, which shows that there is pri­vate and public­sec­tor in­ter­est in ac­cess­ing sup­plies of met­als in a more en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able way to meet in­creas­ing global de­mand.

“Through part­ner­ships and ac­cess to re­search, which al­ready ex­ists, there are many pos­si­bil­i­ties for Ja­maica,” he said.

The sec­re­tary gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Se­abed Au­thor­ity was speak­ing on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 17, at a meet­ing of the Ro­tary Club of St An­drew North held at the Al­ta­mont Court Ho­tel, Kingston.

Ac­cord­ing to Lodge, fol­low­ing ex­plo­rations by those al­ready li­censed and when min­ing be­gins, the an­nual global rev­enues of the ac­tiv­ity could be sev­eral bil­lions of US dol­lars per year.

Among the coun­tries that have par­tic­i­pated in ob­tain­ing con­tracts from the In­ter­na­tional Se­abed Au­thor­ity for ex­plo­ration of the se­abed is Nauru, in the South Pa­cific, which has a pop­u­la­tion of only 8,000.

“The global se­abed rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately 50 per cent of planet Earth and con­tains sig­nif­i­cantly more min­eral re­serves than are now ac­ces­si­ble on land,” Lodge told the Ro­tar­i­ans and guests.

The In­ter­na­tional Se­abed Au­thor­ity of­fi­cial noted that tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances have led to in­creased de­mand for par­tic­u­lar met­als used in the man­u­fac­ture of prod­ucts such as tele­phones, com­put­ers, and elec­tric ve­hi­cles. Given the level of de­mand, cobalt, for ex­am­ple, which cur­rently sells at US$60,000 per met­ric ton, due to an im­pend­ing sup­ply gap, is read­ily avail­able from un­der the seas and oceans.

Ac­cord­ing to Lodge, in the Clar­ion Clipperton Zone of the Pa­cific Ocean alone there are 20 times more po­ten­tial re­serves of cop­per, cobalt, nickel, and man­ganese than on land, and this area has been the fo­cus of ex­plo­ration work over sev­eral decades. The Clar­ion-Clipperton Zone spans 4.5 mil­lion square kilo­me­tres (1.7 mil­lion square miles) be­tween Hawaii and Mex­ico, an abyssal plain as wide as the con­ti­nen­tal United States and punc­tu­ated by seamounts.

How­ever, he pointed out that there were sev­eral chal­lenges to tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the min­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing the fact that min­ing the oceans is still new busi­ness, to­gether with tech­no­log­i­cal needs, a very high cost of ex­trac­tion and pro­cess­ing, ex­treme depth, and re­mote­ness of min­ing lo­ca­tions.

--- Reprinted from Ja­maica Gleaner

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