Cook Islands Launches Nodule Exploration Licensing Program
Oct. 22, 2020 – Avarua, Rarotonga, Cook Islands. The Cook Islands announced today the launching of its Exploration License application process for blocks of the seabed containing cobalt-rich polymetallic nodules within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Announcement was made at a launch event held in Rarotonga,
Cook Islands’ Prime Minister Mark Brown signed a declaration officially opening up areas of their seabed for applicants to submit exploration license applications. In 2018 the Cook Islands put a hold on Exploration licensing in order “to ensure a sound legal framework and licensing process was put in place”. Following an extensive review and re-write of the Cook Islands’ Seabed Minerals Act and associated regulations, the new Seabed Minerals Act 2019 (amended by the Seabed Minerals Amendment Bill 2020) and Seabed Minerals (Exploration) Regulations 2020 have been enacted.
L-R: Advisory Committee Chair Bishop Tutai Pere, His Excellency Sir Tom Marsters, Prime Minister Mark Brown and Seabed Minerals Commssioner Alex Herman
Ocean Minerals LLC (OML) entered into an agreement with the Cook Islands government on Oct. 17, 2017, granting OML an exclusive right to apply for an exploration license for polymetallic nodules in respect to a Reserved Seabed Area (RSA) of approximately 23,000 sq. kilometers in the Penrhyn Basin. Based upon this most recent action by the Cook Islands, OML is currently preparing an Exploration License application for submission to the Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority, planned for later this year, over our RSA.
In addition to formally opening the process by which OML may apply for an exploration license over our reserved areas, the Cook Islands also announced the launch of a tender offer for applications to explore other blocks within the Cook Islands EEZ.
Ocean Minerals LLC is a private U.S. based company seeking to develop the world’s largest known primary cobalt deposit contained in polymetallic nodules on the seabed in the Cook Islands’ EEZ. In addition to cobalt, the nodules contain potentially economic quantities of nickel, copper, manganese, and rare earth elements.
OML commissioned an independent resource report according to NI-43-101 and JORC standards, prepared by RSC Consulting Ltd., which resulted in an estimate of inferred resources in the OML RSA of 331 million tonnes of nodules (wet weight) at a cobalt grade of 0.5% (based on dry weight), equivalent to approximately one million tonnes of cobalt making it the largest known primary cobalt resource. The resource report also indicated an exploration potential of an additional estimated 300 million tonnes of nodules (wet weight) in the RSA.
In 2019 OML commissioned an NI-43-101 Preliminary Economic Assessment, prepared by AMC Consultants, which concluded a Cook Islands nodule project could be economic at projected cobalt prices. A recent internal economic update that reflects current market conditions and process testing results shows potential positive economics at current depressed metal prices.