NT explores seabed mining prospects

Northern Territory has reviewed the possibility of conducting seabed mining in the state’s coastal waters and is seeking public comment on the controversial practice.

The Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has put up its draft review of environmental impacts up for public review, acknowledging a ban on seabed mining since 2012 following community concerns.

This prohibition expires in March 2021.

The EPA stated that seabed mining would likely target aggregate sands, mineral sands containing gold, diamonds and rare earth minerals, offshore salt deposits and mineral deposits including manganese, phosphate and bauxite.

It proposed the use of hydraulic or mechanical dredges as a way to excavate the seabed.

The Northern Territory EPA chairperson Paul Vogel said the review included possible impacts by this practice on biophysical, cultural, social and economic values.

“The coastal waters of the Northern Territory are highly valued by territorians for their environmental, cultural and recreational importance and the role they play in natural resource-based industries such as commercial fishing, aquaculture and tourism,” he said.

“The review describes the range of potential environmental impacts, risks and uncertainties and the measures that could be used to manage impacts from seabed mining on the territory’s coastal waters.

“We encourage everyone to read the draft review and take the opportunity to provide feedback.”

The public comment is open until November 9.

The EPA will provide advice on the risks to, and protection of, Aboriginal sacred sites separately.

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