Feb 05, 2021

NT bans seabed mining

NT bans seabed mining

The Northern Territory Labor Government has declared a ban on seabed mining.

A moratorium on mining activities in the sea and coastal waters is due to expire on 5 March 2021.

It will be extended for up to another six months to allow for the Environment Minister, Eva Lawler, to consult on the draft prohibition declaration, and how it will operate in NT coastal waters.

Ms Lawyer says seabed mining had never been undertaken in the Northern Territory.

“Worldwide there are very few seabed mining projects, and there is limited information available to identify and inform best practice environmental management and rehabilitation in the marine environment,” Ms Lawler said.

Seabed mining off PNG

“This is particularly important in the Territory where our waters are shallow, clean and highly dynamic and our marine and coastal environments are mostly intact.

“The Territory Government knows our natural environment is one of our best assets and a huge part of what makes living in the Territory so special.

“We also know that a healthy environment creates a stronger economy and more local jobs – good environmental policy is smart economic policy.”

The moratorium was introduced to allow the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) to prepare advice to Government on the actual or potential impacts of seabed mining on the NT’s environment, including its social and cultural environments, and sacred sites.

The NT EPA undertook extensive public consultation on its draft advice, and has provided the results of this consultation to the Territory Government.

Ms Lawler says following consideration of the NT EPA and AAPA reports, Government’s position on prohibiting seabed mining in the Territory is based on:

  • The potential impacts on the environment and sacred sites;
  • The potential impacts on the Northern Territory’s existing marine resource based industries, such as fishing, aquaculture, pearling, and tourism, while also managing the complexities of a new and emerging industry in a highly dynamic environment;
  • Limited information available about how to effectively and appropriately manage these impacts or to rehabilitate the seabed once mining is complete: and
  • Community views.

The report prepared by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority visit is available at ntepa.nt.gov.au