22 Nov 2007

Cook Islands Government says lack of labour will hinder any manganese exploitation

3:51 pm on 22 November 2007

A decision on whether the Cook Islands' multi-billion dollar manganese resource could be mined is some time away.

The committee set up by Cabinet to review expressions of interest in the seabed resource has received several expressions of interest, and says all are being treated with caution.

The committee's chairman, Terepai Maoate jnr, says while one company, Endeavour Mining Capital, which met with Cabinet this week, wants to spend more than a billion dollars exploring the seabed, that money is far from guaranteed.

"We're going to require a tremendous amount of workforce to come, and it is going to have to come from outside and when you have that kind of workforce coming in, money will go out of the country, so it's easy to say that the country will make that much money, but the reality is that we know the operations on the island so it is hard to say at this early stage."

Terepai Maoate jnr says the resource has been valued in the past as worth hundreds of billions of dollars, so the committee will be making the decision slowly.