The UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ensures that the development of seabed mineral resources beyond national jurisdiction will benefit developing states, and not just wealthy countries. We’re proud to have partnerships with three Pacific Island nations, which work with us to ensure that our operations conform with UNCLOS and the rules of the International Seabed Authority, which regulates activities on the ocean floor. Through these partnerships, our sponsoring states will gain royalties, local employment, educational and capacity-building opportunities. We work together to responsibly explore and develop this common heritage resource, and to enable these island states that are among the most vulnerable to climate change to contribute to combating it.
The Republic of Nauru
Nauru is the world’s smallest country, with a population of just over 12,000. A limestone island located in the South Pacific, it’s fringed by a coral reef that acts as the island’s main defense from rising sea levels. Colonial exploitation of Nauru’s rich phosphate reserves created a legacy of environmental degradation that left the entire interior of the island uninhabitable and unsuitable for agriculture. As a result of this legacy, Nauru is dedicated to ensuring that future extractive activities are done sustainably. Nauru is a party to UNCLOS and recognizes the essential role of the ISA’s strict guidelines and protection measures regulating extractive activities. Nauru is proud to be the first developing Sponsoring State and believes that polymetallic nodules offer an opportunity to diversify its economy while contributing to the global transition to clean energy.
The Kingdom of Tonga
Tonga, the only remaining monarchy in the Pacific, is ruled by his majesty King Tupou VI. Tonga is an archipelago of 176 forested islands in four clusters. The “Friendly Islands” are located east of Australia and have a population of roughly 100,000. Unlike many of its island neighbours, Tonga never experienced the impacts of colonial resource extraction. Tongan cultural roots are strong, and its economy is reliant on tourism and climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture and fisheries. Like many Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), Tonga has a direct interest in combating climate change and moving the world toward clean energy; the islands’ groundwater supply is tainted by salt water intrusion from rising seas, threatening domestic agriculture. The Tongan government is exploring the possibility of responsibly collecting polymetallic nodules in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) through Tonga Offshore Mining Ltd. (TOML), which DeepGreen (now The Metals Company) acquired in early 2020. We’re proud to partner with Tonga on its continued path of self-determined development.
The Republic of Kiribati
The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced kiri-bass) lies in the central Pacific Ocean, west of Hawaii, with a population of about 119,000 people. The largest atoll nation on Earth, the country has few natural resources and relies heavily on fishing-license revenues from foreign vessels and the export of copra from coconuts. Despite accounting for just 0.0002% of global CO2 emissions, Kiribati,heavily impacted by climate change, is addressing the climate crisis on multiple fronts, as two of its islands have already disappeared into the sea. The nation is renowned for creating the world’s first large-scale marine protected area, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), which also contains the planet’s largest intact coral archipelago. Kiribati hopes to enable the clean energy transition by contributing to critical mineral supply chains. We’re proud to partner with Kiribati in this shared mission through the exploration of the country’s Marawa contract area.