Tuvalu prepares to dig deep for seabed mineral wealth


Tuvalu is the fourth Pacific country to pass laws for deep sea mineral activities, joining the Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga.

Deep sea minerals, such as sea floor massive sulphides, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and manganese nodules located in international waters can only be accessed via sponsorship of a State.

While deep sea mining in the region is still some years away, Pacific Island countries are putting everything in place to ensure they can manage their deep sea resources appropriately and sustainably.

Tuvalu has set new legal standards for deep sea mining. Its Seabed Minerals Act 2014 requires coastal communities to be consulted before approval of mining projects in Tuvalu’s waters and before approval of any mining project Tuvalu sponsors in international waters.

Hon. Eselealofa Apinelu, Tuvalu’s Attorney General, said the law will strongly enhance the sustainable management of Tuvalu’s deep sea resources. “I’m hopeful that we’re witnessing the beginning of a trend that will accelerate new policies and initiatives,” she said.

Tuvalu has been working with the pioneering Deep Sea Minerals Project, the SPC and European Union (EU) partnership providing technical advice and assistance to Pacific Island countries so they can make informed decisions about deep seabed mining.

”I’m thankful for assistance provided by the Deep Sea Minerals Project which has now equipped Tuvalu with a set of tools that will allow us to maximise the benefits of deep sea minerals for our people,” Hon. Apinelu said.

Deep sea mining has the potential to provide developing island nations with revenue to address development issues but this must be balanced against social and environmental considerations, explained Professor Michael Petterson, Director of SPC’s Geoscience Division.

“SPC will continue to work with the countries to develop the legal instruments required and assist with capacity building and awareness raising programs in this fascinating, emerging area,” he said.

There are 15 Pacific Island countries involved in the deep sea minerals project, working to improve governance and management of their deep-sea minerals resources in line with international law. There is a focus on protecting the marine environment and securing equitable financial arrangements for Pacific Island countries and their people.

Ambassador Andrew Jacobs, Head of the EU Delegation for the Pacific, commended Tuvalu and nearby Kiribati for their achievements in the deep sea mining industry. “The formulation of new legislation for Tuvalu and the issuance of an exploration license for Kiribati augurs well for the industry in the region,” he said.


  • Tuvalu is the fourth Pacific country to pass laws for deep sea mineral activities, joining the Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga.
  • They have been working with the Deep Sea Mining Project, a partnership between the EU and SPC that provides Pacific nations with technical and other advice
  • Tuvalu must consult its coastal communities before mining is approved is approved in their waters, and before the government sponsors mining in international waters

Useful links:
About the Pacific Community-European Union deep sea minerals project





Deep sea minerals
Deep sea minerals