Reports of gold in South Pacific waters are attracting prospectors to the region. Meanwhile, a South Korean company has secured mineral exploration rights in Tonga.A report by Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited states that 'big-time gold prospectors are scouring the seas between Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand after reports of gold deposits in South Pacific waters'.
The report quotes New Zealand's Dominion Post newspaper as reporting that the gold rush has become hi-tech with serious players spending big money.
'At stake in the waters of New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji and around the potentially disputed continental shelf boundaries of the three are high-grade gold, copper, zinc, lead and silver'.
The report identifies one problem which is that no continental shelf boundary line between Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand has been defined, which is a requirement by the United Nations Law of the Sea.
'No treaties have been signed but Tonga has historical claims to the Southern Lau group of islands, now part of Fiji. Several years ago Suva officials suggested that Minerva Reef, 400 kilometres southeast of Nuku'alofa, was Fijian'.
Meanwhile, The Korea Times has reported that South Korea has secured exclusive seabed mineral exploration rights in Tonga.
The report states that 'the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said the 20,000 square kilometer area the Tongan government granted an exploratory license for has more than 9 million tons of hydrothermal deposits of copper, zinc and gold'.
'This is enough to supply 300,000 tons of minerals annually over the next 30 years, which will save about $100 million in imports, the ministry said, adding that commercial production was targeted for 2010'.
Apparently, with the scarcity of strategic metals, there is a race to secure natural resources, of which the region seems to have especially with the recent confirmation of valuable minerals on the Tongan seabed.