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Ocean Minerals to explore Cook Islands seabed for rare earths, scandium

Texas-based Ocean Minerals LLC has secured the exclusive rights to explore the seabed in the exclusive economic zone surrounding the Cook Islands in the hopes of uncovering rare earth elements and scandium, according to a Sept. 28 statement.

The Cook Islands government will allow Ocean Minerals access to about 12,000 square kilometers of the seabed for mineral exploration and has granted the company a first-option to explore several other areas of the seabed.

The areas in the Cook Islands that are believed to host concentrations of scandium and heavy rare earth elements were discovered during a research study conducted by Deep Reach Technology Inc.

Ocean Minerals has entered into a licensing agreement with Deep Reach for engineering technology and information gained during the study.

Deep Reach also performed laboratory tests on the samples taken and is working on an economic means of processing the sediments onboard a production vessel at sea.

Ocean Minerals believes the scandium content has the potential to fuel a new aluminum-scandium alloy business serving the aerospace and automotive industries.

Under the agreement with the Cook Islands government, Ocean Minerals will be required to pay an exploration fee as well as fund annual training programs for Cook Islanders.

The company will still be required to apply to the Seabed Minerals Authority for its exploration licenses and must meet its obligations under the Environment Act 2003.