The Northern Territory (NT) Government has implemented a moratorium PDF (39.7 KB) on seabed mining activities in NT coastal waters. The moratorium has been in place since March 2012 and remains in place until March 2021.

Seabed mining is a diverse and evolving industry focused on exploiting mineral deposits on and under the sea floor. There is limited information available on the impacts of seabed mining on the environment, methods for appropriately managing those impacts or methods for rehabilitating the seabed following mining activities.

The purpose of the seabed mining moratorium is to provide Government with the opportunity to undertake a review of the actual or potential impacts of seabed mining in NT coastal waters to provide a basis for the assessment of the possible future development and sustainability of the industry.

The moratorium operates in conjunction with two reservations declared under the Mineral Titles Act 2010:

NT EPA advice

To inform the NT Government’s review, the NT EPA has been asked to prepare a report on the following matters:

  1. the actual or potential impacts on the environment and other resource industries
  2. methods for managing the impacts
  3. other matters outlined in the letter to the NT EPA from the then Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Heritage.

View the complete terms of reference PDF (1.3 MB).

Current progress

The Interim Report: Seabed Mining PDF (4.1 MB) in the NT was released in November 2012.

The NT EPA released a draft final report for community consultation in September 2020. Comments closed on 9 November 2020.

In December 2020 the NT EPA finalised and delivered its Final Report - Review of Seabed Mining in the NT PDF (4.9 MB) and the Consultation Report PDF (957.4 KB) to the Minister for Environment.

On 4 August 2021, the Minister for Environment declared seabed mining to be a prohibited action in accordance with section 38 of the Environment Protection Act 2019. To view further information on the process, visit the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security’s Declaration to prohibit subsea (seabed) mining page.

On 9 August 2021, the Minister for Environment provided a formal written response PDF (1.2 MB) to the NT EPA’s Final Report advising of her decision to proceed with the declaration process.

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