The Cook Islands has passed a bill that will allow valuable minerals to be extracted from its seabed.
A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister's office says polymetallic nodules on the sea floor surrounding the country contain manganese, cobalt, nickel and traces of gold.
Florence Syme Buchanan says the Commonwealth Secretariat has helped draw up legislation that is environmentally robust.
She says mining will be able to start once the Secretariat's also helped set up a controlling authority.
"This authority would be charged with managing the seabed mineral sector, allocating licences for the exploration and development of seabed minerals. There're four types of licences that are provided for in the legislation, there's prospecting permits, exploration licences, mining licences and retention licences."
Florence Syme Buchanan says suggestions that the bill was fast-tracked through parliament are wrong.