AVARUA - In a remote corner of the Pacific, a Polynesian micro-state is preparing for an industrial plunge into the deep sea. The Cook Islands want to extract billions of metal nodules that are lying there.

Companies from Belgium (DEME), the Netherlands (Boskalis) and the USA are drawing up the plans. They've started with explorations. Nodules abund here and the prospect to gain income from extracting them is of 'national interest' for the government. It wants to diversify away from tourism that was hit hard by the Covid-19-pandemia.

Public opinion in the archipelago is split. Fishermen fear that fishing grounds will be destroyed, a politician recalls a tradition of bad governance. PM Mark Brown and his inner circle dread critique. They claim that seabed minerals are indispensable for a 'green electrification'. And so, while international negociations on a mining code for the deepsea kick off again in Jamaica and a movement against deep-sea mining grows, the Cook Islands have decided to go it alone.

A crossborder investigation in the Cook Islands by Belgian journalists Greet Brauwers and Raf Custers and Cook Islands journalist Rachel Reeves

Team members

Raf Custers

Raf Custers (°1954) is a Belgian historian and journalist. 

Greet Brauwers

Greet Brauwers (°1963) is a Belgian multimedia journalist.

Rachel Reeves

Rachel Reeves is a writer and journalist based in the Cook Islands.

Rachel Reeves
€50.000 allocated on 13/12/2021



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