Lynch said a tender for exploration has been proposed for early 2019.
Speaking at a consultation forum this week, Lynch said industries are interested contractors, and if they are able to extract the mineral then that will be the only time that the Cook Islands would benefit from the project.
“Some industries have shown some interest in our seabed minerals, they would like to explore and see if its viable commercially, if not they will walk away.”
He said if the contractors or the interested parties say “yes”, then they will negotiate and will have to comply with the licensing agreement.
He said some of these interested parties included GSR a Belgium company, that have said “we can do it.”
“But the test will come when they will make an application. They must file at least three information documents such as the work plan, environmental plan and a financial plan.
“So if we look at the work plan, it’s to know that they can deliver, they know what they are doing, the equipment’s they will use, the impacts and when and how they will do it,” Lynch said.
He said these are common documents that the International Seabed Authority (ISA) have been receiving from applicants for the last 15 years of exploration and there 26 licences out in international waters above the ISA.
“The Cook Islands are not inventing the wheel in terms of exploration, there is already an international standard of documentation that is expected and will be required and there will be experts evaluating the information for us, giving some ideas and help in making good decisions.”
Te Ipukarea Society’s Kelvin Passfield asked if those interested industries had the capacity to do the work? He asked Lynch if he meant all the industries had the capacity because they said they do.
Lynch replied: “That still has to be evaluated. They may not even apply. The more reputable the company is the more access they have to finance and capability. No decision has been made. It will be looked into when applications are sent in.
“No one has applied yet,” he added.