Cook Islands seabed rights go to US miner

OCEAN Minerals has signed an agreement for exclusive rights to explore for rare earths in the Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone.

  • 30 September 2016
  • 14:46
  • News
Cook Islands seabed rights go to US miner

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The Texas-based company said that recent discoveries indicated potential new sources of rare earth elements and scandium in the deep seabed.

"Ocean Minerals has identified areas of prospective potential has entered into an agreement with the Cook Islands government for exclusive rights to prospect and explore these areas.

"The areas in the Cook Islands were discovered during a research study of alternative sources of REEs conducted by Houston-based Deep Reach Technology. Ocean Minerals has entered into a licensing agreement with DRT for engineering technology and information gained during the research study," the company said.

The research conducted by Deep Reach involved analyses of existing archived seabed samples throughout the Pacific leading Deep Reach to the discovery of these enriched sediments near the Cook Islands.

"Deep Reach also performed laboratory tests on these samples and is working on an economic means of processing the sediments on board the production vessel at sea. Ocean Minerals believes it has reserved the most promising areas and plans during the next few years to undertake several phases of seabed sampling which will incorporate the collection of environmental baseline data.

"The areas reserved contain concentrations of scandium and heavy REEs. Ocean Minerals believes the scandium content has the potential to fuel a new aluminium-scandium alloy business serving the aerospace and automotive industries," the company said.

Scandium, when added in small quantities to aluminium, creates a metal alloy which is extremely light, strong, corrosion resistant, heat tolerant, and weldable. The use of such an alloy in automobiles and aircraft could yield fuel savings while protecting lives.

"This application could lead to a reduction in carbon output serving to reduce sea level rise to which the Cook Islands is highly vulnerable."

REEs are critical to the world's most demanding high tech, green energy, and defence applications and new applications of REEs are constantly being discovered. At present 90% of the world's supply of REEs comes from China.

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