The Northern Territory Government has banned subsea (seabed) mining with a Declaration of Prohibited Action gazetted in a bid to protect its coastal and marine environment.
Subsea mining has never been undertaken in the Northern Territory and, according to the government, poses real risks of significant impacts that are adverse to the value of the coastal and marine environment.
According to a government statement, there is considerable uncertainty and lack of information about the nature and extent of potential impacts from subsea mining.
“At this time, subsea mining is unable to be adequately assessed and regulated appropriately in a manner consistent with the Environment Protection Act 2019 due to the risks and uncertainty,” it stated.
Environment Minister Eva Lawler has gazetted the ‘Declaration of Prohibited Action: Subsea Mining’ as the final step in formalising the ban on subsea mining, following the conclusion of the public consultation on a draft declaration.
The Minister’s decision was informed by reports from the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.
“Our natural environment is one of our best assets and it’s a large part of what makes living in the Territory so special,” Lawler said.
“As Minister for Environment, I am satisfied the declaration to prohibit subsea mining is necessary and consistent with furthering the objects of the Environment Protection Act 2019.
“It is important that our unique environment and the jobs that rely on it are protected – and that is exactly what this Government is doing.
“The Territory Government remains focused on being the comeback capital of Australia through a diverse range of existing and new job-creating industries in the Territory, while also protecting our environment.”
According to a statement, the government’s position on prohibiting subsea mining in the Territory is based on the potential impacts on the environment and sacred sites, the potential impacts on existing marine resource-based industries, such as fishing, aquaculture, pearling, and tourism, as well as the views of the community.
The government also stated there was limited information available about how to effectively and appropriately manage these impacts or to rehabilitate the seabed once mining is complete.