February 24, 2022

Press Release
The Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) has formed a joint venture with GSR, the deep-sea exploration division of Belgium’s DEME Group, to undertake seabed mineral exploration within the Cook Islands’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The partners have formed a new entity called CIIC Seabed Resources (CIIC-SR). Billions of potato sized rocks known as polymetallic nodules lie on the ocean floor. They contain critical metals and the Cook Islands nodules are particularly known for containing high levels of cobalt. Granting its first licences for seabed mining exploration was described as a “historic moment for our country” by Cook Islands Prime Minister Hon Mark Brown. The licensing process took 16 months. Over 50 consultations and numerous meetings were held, between government officials, advisors, the exploration companies and other stakeholders. “My vision has always been for the Cook Islands to lead the way in the sustainable and responsible development of seabed mining,” said Mark Brown. “If undertaken properly, it has the potential to make a significant contribution to our country’s social, environmental and economic wellbeing.” The Government is only allowing exploration at this stage and has not made any decisions about whether commercial nodule collection operations may proceed. The Government will continue to proceed with caution, taking actions based on the best available science. “The new joint venture – CIIC-SR – is the result of a very special association of two countries located on opposite sides of the world,” said Michael Henry, Director of CIIC-SR, at the Cook Islands licensing event. “The Cook Islands and Belgium have common values and ambitious sustainability objectives for the planet.” “After several years of successful offshore exploration campaigns, we have shown that this kind of partnership, mixing different cultures, skills, knowledge and know-how is not only possible, but also enjoyable and of mutual benefit.” “We feel humbled and honoured to be given a chance to be part of Cook Islands’ history and its future.   We are acutely aware that Ocean would have been a more apt name for our planet and as we move forward, we will keep that thought firmly in our minds and in our hearts.”