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The federal government’s Australia-India Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative Partnership (AIIPOIP) grant program has given the University of Queensland (UQ) an opportunity to research deep seabed mining.

UQ will partner with India’s The Energy and Resources Institute to understand the risks and opportunities available in mining underwater in Indo-Pacific waters.

AIIPOIP has granted $1.4 million towards several partnerships in multiple sectors, which will be spent between 2020 and 2024.

The AIIPOIP and UQ grant is worth $100,000.

Deep sea mining has been on UQ’s radar for some time.

In a paper from UQ researchers titled ‘Governing deep sea mining in the face of uncertainty’, it was concluded that more needed to be done to understand the barriers to effective deep sea mining (DSM).

“One of the main issues with developing DSM legislation is that there is no commercial-scale operation at the moment,” said senior research fellow and study lead author Anthony Kung.

“In terrestrial mining, there are usually similar, precedent projects to help assess environmental and social risks.

“But these precedents don’t exist for DSM, so it’s unclear how DSM would affect the natural environment on the seafloor. Governance frameworks need to reflect this uncertainty.”

UQ’s AIIPOIP funding should help to break down some of these barriers.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women Marise Payne announced the list of first round partnerships at the Indo-Pacific Business Summit.

“These practical initiatives support the Australia-India Joint Declaration on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which I signed with India’s Minister for External Affairs,” Payne said.