Submission Email Text

Dear Minister, 


I am very concerned that seabed mining would devastate the Top End’s natural and cultural heritage, livelihoods and lifestyle. Evidence of this is clearly laid out in the NT Environment Protection Authority’s (NT EPA) review and reports. 

I urge the Government to place a permanent ban on seabed mining in NT waters, to help safeguard the Territory’s fishing lifestyle and culture. 

Opposition to seabed mining is growing in Australia and around the world, based on concerns about its environmental, cultural, social and economic impacts.  In the NT there has been so much community concern, that both Labor and CLP Governments have had a temporary ban on seabed mining in place for almost a decade. This community concern about destructive seabed mining remains. 

Healthy coasts and rivers are central to our Top End way of life, our economic success and our culture. They underpin one of the most important economic and cultural pursuits – the Top End fishing experience. They contribute $2billion to the Territory economy each year, supporting more than 6,000 jobs and are a powerful drawcard for tourists from around the world.

Opening up the Top End’s coastal waters to a new destructive activity like seabed mining puts all this at risk for short-term economic gain.

The NT EPA review provides compelling evidence that supports a permanent ban on seabed mining in the Northern Territory. What this evidence reveals is that: 

  • the likely sites of seabed mining are in areas with high biodiversity and cultural values, especially in estuaries and river mouths;
  • there is substantial uncertainty about the likely impacts of most known seabed mining methods on the Top End’s environmental values and on other resources industries, such as commercial fishing and tourism;
  • NT mining laws are ill-equipped to cope with the very different circumstances of seabed mining in dynamic marine environments;
  • the mineral resources in the Top End’s coasts and seas are unproven and would require exploration using impactful methods such as seismic surveys;
  • the industry is yet to achieve a social licence to operate;  
  • potential claims by the industry that seabed mining would boost regional and remote economies are contradicted by research which indicates that these economic benefits rarely, if ever, materialise and are far outweighed by the negative cultural, environmental and social impacts.

The recently released NT EPA review has several weaknesses which also must be addressed:

  • the report fails to adequately address the potential impacts on Indigenous communities, commercial and recreational fishing and tourism; 
  • the draft report places too much faith in legislative, environmental assessment and community engagement frameworks (which have a history of failure) being able to protect the Top End coasts and seas from the impacts of seabed mining, and
  • the report excludes the impacts that the land-based operations of the seabed mining industry – processing factories, wharves, roads and other infrastructure – would have on coastal habitats, local communities, recreation and tourism.

Effective protection for the Top End’s unique coasts can only be achieved by a permanent ban on seabed mining in the Northern Territory waters.

I am calling for a permanent ban on seabed mining in the Northern Territory.