Five Sites Identified For Fiji’s Deep Sea Mineral Exploration: KIOST Minerals

Five prospective Fijian sites have been identified by a Korean deep sea mineral exploration company for further investigation.
30 May 2021 11:04
Five Sites Identified For Fiji’s Deep Sea Mineral Exploration: KIOST Minerals
One of the many vessels of the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology’s fleet in Korea.

Five prospective Fijian sites have been identified by a Korean deep sea mineral exploration company for further investigation.

Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) Minerals (South Pacific) Limited is waiting for high end technology and remote controlled equipment to arrive to carry out the next phase of its deep sea minerals (DSM) exploration programme.

KIOST Minerals (South Pacific) Ltd spokesman and Fiji agent Jang Wan Bang confirmed the matter.

KIOST Minerals has completed three exploratory sea cruises since the issuance of its deep sea exploration licences, Minister for Mineral Resources, Jone Usamate told Parliament, last week.

The company was first awarded its deep sea exploration licence in 2011 for a six-year term.

The licence subsequently renewed in 2017 for a further four- year term as confirmed by Mineral Resources Department acting director Raymond Mohammed.

Sum of investment

Mr Bang said the company had invested $36.4 million in the project since its initiation over three years ago.

The company has a budget of $81.4 million for its Fiji project, he said.

The five deep sea exploration prospects within the organisation’s exploration licence area in Fiji’s exclusive economic zone are the size of the ANZ stadium, Mr Bang said.

“That’s an estimated 500 metres in width and length,” he said.

Drilling will not exceed 20 metres in depth, Mr Bang said.

Back in 1977

Mr Usamate said scientific research in Fiji was undertaken from the early 1970s to the early 1980s in various offshores areas of Fiji.

Minister for Mineral Resources Jone Usamate.

Minister for Mineral Resources Jone Usamate.

The focus was on testing for potential petroleum and metalliferous materials, he said.

“From 1977 to 2004, we had about 15 offshore mineral surveys or explorations being undertaken,” Mr Usamate said.

“Most of them were in collaboration with our development partners such as Australia, New Zealand and United States in a joint survey of the Central, North Fiji basin in early 1987.

“This was followed by joint Japan-French cruises from 1987 to 1992 with a study of the mineral potential in the Central, North Fiji basin.”

Mr Usamate was responding to a question from Opposition Member of Parliament, Simione Rasova, who tabled a question in Parliament about the status of mineral exploration in Fiji’s exclusive economic zone.

“We have had the Japan/Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) investigation from 1999 to 2001 and 2004 with the area of interest once again being the North Fiji basin,” he said.

18 explorations since 2011

The Ministry for Mineral Resources has received some increasing interest since then, he said.

“Some legislations were put together in 2010 for amendments to the Mining Act, which allowed for deep sea mineral exploration and the issuance of exploration licences under the Mining Act,’’ Mr Usamate said.

“Following its enactment in 2010, the department has seen the commencement of a total of 18 deep sea mineral exploration licences commencing in 2011.”

Mr Usamate said 15 licences were granted to Nautilus Minerals in 2011.

Nautilus Minerals’ licence expired in 2013.

Two licences were granted to Bluewater Mineral in 2012; both expired in 2014, he said.

Marine ecology survey

“A significant component of such surveys is the marine ecological survey which presents valuable information of the marine ecosystems or ecological environment where deep sea minerals occur,” Mr Usamate said.

“Deep sea minerals, as with any other mineral occurrence including terrestrial minerals, are non migratory.

“As such there is no need to jump on the deep sea mineral mining bandwagon,” he said.

The Mineral Resources Department yesterday confirmed the information was correct.


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