NT Government extends seabed mining moratorium until 2021

The Northern Territory Government has extended a moratorium on seabed mining in state waters until at least 2021, following on from two earlier moratorium orders implemented from 2012–2015 and 2015–2018.

The news was initially revealed by the ABC — an official announcement on the extension is yet to be made by the NT Government.

The coasts of Arnhem Land and the Gulf of Carpentaria contain large deposits of manganese that are of interest to developers. The ABC spoke to a spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who said that they were aiming to provide a final report to the state government along with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) early next year.

The prospect of seabed mining in the Northern Territory has seen various protest from traditional owners and environmental groups over the last few years. In 2013, the NT Government repealed 11 licences between three miners who had wanted to mine at offshore Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria — BHP, Northern Manganese and Yukida Resources — following the implementation of a total ban on seabed mining in the region prompted in part by the local Anindilyakwa Land Council.

In addition to environmentalists and land groups, fishing bodies have also protested the prospect of seabed mining, which has the potential to damage fish habitats.