Media Release Marine Parks

New report reveals seabed mining too risky for Top End coasts

July 13, 2020

New documents received under Freedom of Information laws provide comprehensive evidence that seabed mining would have an unacceptable impact on the Top End’s unique coastal waters, culture and fishing lifestyle.

These documents form the basis of a new report commissioned by Keep Top End Coasts Healthy – Seabed Mining Threatens Top End Treasures*.

Adele Pedder, Coordinator for Keep Top End Coasts Healthy said: “The Top End has some of the last healthy tropical coasts in the world. But right now, seabed mining corporations are lining up to mine some of our most precious places like Fog Bay, Anson Bay and the Wessel Islands.

“This report tells a very clear story. Destructive seabed mining is like bulldozing the seafloor. This would decimate our marine life, pollute our waters, threaten our fishing and destroy places of cultural significance.”

Seabed mining has never been allowed in Australia before. The Northern Territory Government first declared a three-year temporary ban on seabed mining in March 2012 and has since extended it twice under both the Country Liberal Party (CLP) and Labor Governments. The current temporary ban is due to expire in March 2021.

“There are many locations across the Territory coast where seabed mining has already been approved or where applications to mine exist**. If the temporary ban expires, mining companies could exploit 9600km2 of our incredible Territory coasts – an area eight times the size of Darwin Harbour.

“These corporations won’t go away until a permanent ban is in place.

“This Territory election presents a unique opportunity for all parties to commit to a permanent ban on seabed mining,” concluded Ms Pedder.

Key report findings:

  • The economic benefits from seabed mining would be relatively small compared to its negative economic impact on tourism, recreational and commercial fishing, and ecosystem services.
  • The Top End’s mangroves, seagrasses, tidal flats, coral reefs and estuaries would be devastated by seabed mining in many iconic areas.
  • Laws for mining have been designed around land-based mines and are ill-equipped to cope with the very different circumstances of seabed mining in dynamic marine environments.
  • Marine animals, including threatened species of marine turtles, dolphins, dugongs and migratory shorebirds would suffer from habitat removal and fragmentation, reduced water quality and the general decline in the health of the marine environment.
  • Indigenous communities in the areas targeted for seabed mining would experience impacts on many aspects of their lives including damage to cultural landscapes and traditional land use.

*Read the full report here

**Map of NT Seabed Mining