Vanuatu's Minister of Lands, Geology and Mines, Ralph Regenvanu, says he's seeking legal advice on whether dozens of offshore mining licenses are valid.
Mr Regenvanu revealed this week successive lands ministers had issued 148 licenses for offshore exploration over the past five years and he says no others will be allowed without wide consultation.
He says only one of the licenses was gazetted and there may be other grounds to put a stop to the other licenses.
"And the question is whether the others that have not been gazetted, are they still legal? If we get advice that they are legal, then we do have to respect them and apparently there is some sort of agreement that before any exploration can take place, there needs to be a further agreement, so the licenses do not actually allow companies to come in now and do prospecting."
Ralph Regenvanu says that's another way of ensuring there has been due process in allowing companies in.