A REPRESENTATIVE from a mineral exploration company granted licences to prospect in waters around Fiji says it will be a number of years before any deep-sea mining activity is conducted in the country.
Ratu Isoa Gavidi, the country manager for Nautilus Minerals, said not enough had been done to determine the viability of deep sea mineral mines in Fiji.
"We have exploration licences for 12 or 13 tenements for areas where we have to go and explore and check whether there are any prospective mineral deposits," he said.
"Fiji is still a long way into the future because we haven't even started to do prospecting although we have been granted licences.
"We have done some but not enough for us to make a decision as to whether we will mine or not."
Ratu Isoa said the area of focus, located about 100km north of Vanua Levu, between Fiji and Tonga, could bring in jobs if commercially viable mines were established.
"There will be employment opportunities for locals at the mining stage but not at the technical stage.
"Like any other mine, even those on land, we can never tell until we start to prospect if the potential is there because it is not cheap to mine.
"It would add to the economy in a lot of ways.
"I'm not saying it would be the answer to all our prayers but it would provide an opportunity for island states to get returns from mineral resources in the abundant waters around them."
Ratu Isoa was a participant at a workshop hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme about deep sea mining in the Pacific which concludes in Nadi today.