Cook Islands Investment Corporation project manager of special project unit, Eusenio Fatialofa left the country last week and joined the rest of the crew at San Diego in the US.
The vessel MV Captain Topaz will depart San Diego for international waters this week and is expected to return by the end of June.
Fatialofa said he was looking forward to the opportunity to learn more about seabed mining.
He will assist the Tracked Soil Testing Device (TSTD) ‘Patania” crew with mobilisation efforts before setting forward on the open waters.
The team onboard consists of six people (two superintendents and four operators/technicians). The technicians will work six hour shifts and the superintendents 12-hour shifts.
The expedition has several objectives, the main one being the tests on the Patania.
The device is the first step in GSR’s “de-risking” strategy for future deep sea mining and is designed as a research tool.
Fatialofa hopes this opportunity will help him better understand all aspects and requirements, especially environmental, of a developing new industry.
“This is an awesome opportunity and I am just looking forward to being the ambassador of the Cook Islands on this expedition,” Fatialofa said.
“It’s a new industry and everything is new for me. It’s going to be an awesome learning curve for me.
“Once we get on the ground, it’s pretty much all go. So it’s 12 hour shifts and midnight through to midday, and I’m looking forward to this challenge.
“This will be my first time out at sea for this duration. I think we will be about 33 days out in the open waters in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone within the company’s licenced area.”
Fatialofa said his role with the members of GSR onboard MV Captain Topaz would be “more or less” the same as an intern.
“It will be onboard training, working with other engineers, technicians, scientists and biologists. It will be an awesome opportunity to be a part of this and I’m thankful for that.”
Upon his return, Fatialofa is expected to provide feedback on his experience to the relevant authorities here.
While onboard MV Captain Topaz, he will keep in touch with those authorities, advising them on the progress of the expedition.
The Cook Islands Government partnered with GSR to apply for an exploratory licence in the CCZ as per the ISA regulations which give opportunities to developing nations to lay claims on the mineral-rich CCZ.
This expedition will focus on the GSR block and not the Cook Islands area.