It is now actively seeking comment and feedback. The draft Bill updates and replaces the current Seabed Minerals Act passed in 2009, which at the time was the world’s first national legislation dedicated to responsible seabed minerals development.
“I am proud to present the draft Seabed Minerals Bill to the public for feedback,” said deputy prime minister Mark Brown, whose portfolio includes Natural Resources and Minerals.
“As I promised in our recent community and special group seabed mineral sector presentations, a lot of work has been done and we are now in the position where we can now release this draft bill for comment and feedback.”
Some of the key changes to the new bill reflect an emphasis on the Marae Moana Act 2017, which prioritises environmental standards and best practices. These changes represent government’s response to concerns raised during public consultations last month.
“We have received the best legal and technical advice from the Commonwealth Secretariat and Pacific Community (SPC) to further improve our national legal and regulatory framework for our seabed minerals sector,” Brown said.
“We have (also) had the expert legislative drafting assistance of the New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel’s Office in developing our new bill, based on best international industry and environmental practice.”
The new SBM bill is also more reader-friendly than its predecessor, he says.
Public consultation related to the draft Bill will take place in January 2019. Ahead of these consultations, the draft Bill and Explanatory Note is being distributed directly to key stakeholders and interested parties. It is publicly available on the Seabed Minerals Authority’s website(www.seabedmineralsauthority.gov.ck). Interested parties can also call 29-193 to obtain an electronic copy of the draft Bill.
“The deadline for public submissions on the draft Bill is February 6, 2019, though the conversation about seabed minerals activity is ongoing and members of the public are encouraged to continue providing feedback beyond this date,” a news release from the Seabed Minerals Authority said yesterday.
“Government intends to share some thoughtful and well-researched submissions with the public in order to facilitate dialogue and community engagement,” the release said.
The draft Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Sector Strategy 2019-2024 and a proposed Cook Islands National Seabed Minerals Policy 2019, which replaces an earlier policy developed in 2014, will also be made available in the near future for comment and feedback.
Government intends to announce another tender for exploration licences in early 2019. This follows the 2015 tender for licences, during which no applications for licences were received.
Licences will be granted to companies interested in scoping the feasibility of seabed minerals activities in the Cook Islands and will not permit any extraction for commercial purposes.