HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Maria Tanner spends 5 minutes with ... Daryl Thornburn
“Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs first,” rationalizes Daryl Thornburn a well qualified and experienced geologist originally from New Zealand who is currently in the Cook Islands occupying the new appointed role of Natural Resource Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Tom Marsters. As Natural Resource Advisor Thornburn’s says his role is “to assist the Cook Islands government in developing a management regime of seabed minerals, and establishing the Seabed Mining Authority.”
In the Cook Islands, we have an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that covers 1.8 million square meters, of that area we sit on an abundant natural resource mainly being manganese nodules, which are rich in cobalt, nickel and cooper, and are found some “many miles off the coast, shoreline and up to 4 or 6,000 meters deep” assures Thornburn, on the floors of our mineral loaded seabed. These natural resources hold significant economic gain for the Cook Islands, although we do not currently engage in seabed mining with the passing of the deep sea mining legislation in 2009 the government has in place a framework to apply for licenses to explore mining, which caught the eyes and ears of a Canadian based company offering the Cook Island government NZ$55 million for a licence to explore the mining potential of our seabed, herein creating a very serious economic boost to our tourism driven industry.
With the increasing attention of dredging our seabed’s to access our supply of natural resources and maintaining our saleable “white sands and clear waters” image the two do play very largely hand in hand, and many environmentalist groups would warn vastly of the dangers of upsetting our well balanced eco system with the possibility of causing damage to our fisheries and reef.
 However the obvious benefits of seabed mining include economic revenue and employment drives creating jobs, “the key thing is to make sure that the Cook Islands get their fair share of the economic rent that might come from these mineral resources,” says Thornburn. The geologist also maintains that confusion (around the topic) is, “often caused by lack of available information,” and that works would need to involve and include the possible investors, government, the Cook Island community and environmentalist groups, both local and international "because once seabed mining minerals starts to move forward, there will be a lot of international interest in terms of what the Cook Islands is doing.”
“While there might be some impact on some things, they are yet to be determined,” stresses Thronburn.

Throughout his work Thornburn has spent a number of years working high profile roles for several natural resource companies that often saw him posted abroad places such as South Africa and on one of his more recent postings, Afghanistan. Although Daryl admits he was retired at the time he had always wanted to visit Afghanistan but due to a number of reasons had decided not to travel through the region. When a similar advisory position opened up in the mineral rich fields of Afghanistan Thornburn applied and was stationed for an initial period of 6 months, but “enjoyed the work” that his contract was renewed for a further 3 years.  

Over my green tea and his flat white Thornburn shares with me an interesting insight, “For every action there is a reaction, however,” he adds, “you can wash up the dishes after having a feed of fried eggs and bacon.” -Maria Tanner

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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