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Expert sees fewer threats than land-based mines

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 8, 2011) – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says seabed mining may be less environmentally damaging than land-based mining.

But it warns more work is needed to fully understand the impact of under-sea projects.

The warning comes as the Pacific prepares to become the first region in the world to mine the ocean floor.

Pacific governments meeting in Nadi, Fiji, have been told the environmental footprint of seafloor mining is likely to be much smaller than the footprint of its land-based equivalent.

A conservation union marine expert, Jan Steffen, says most seafloor mining will take place in small, definned areas that will not leak much toxic material.

Dr Steffen says he does not have particular concerns for the Pacific's reefs but less is known about the impact on fish stocks.

Dr Steffen says Pacific legislation governing seafloor mining should include all the environmental protections given land-based mining.

He says more research is needed, along with good environmental impact assessments and more marine potected areas.

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