The Cook Islands Finance Minister says seabed mining has the potential to make the nation rich.
Tenders are now open for a period of four months, ending 11 December, for international companies to bid for exploratory licences within ten blocks of the country's 2 millon square kilometre exclusive economic zone.
Mark Brown says scientific assessments so far indicate certain areas have very high concentrations of minerals such as cobalt, copper, nickel, and manganese.
"They're valued in the billions and billions of dollars in terms of the value of the minerals that are in these nodules. So it does have the potential to transform the country into being a very very wealthy country. And in that regard we have to be I guess cautious".
Mark Brown says any wealth will have to be managed properly to protect future generations of Cook Islanders.