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Ponta Delgada ,  June 16, 2015

Azores Sea is one of most interesting areas for mineral exploration, says Filipe Porteiro

The Regional Director for Sea Affairs stated in Ponta Delgada the Azores "have mineral resources in the deep sea that can be exploited," including deposits of polymetallic sulphides, cobalt, platinum, iron, nickel crusts and manganese nodules.

Filipe Porteiro spoke at the Mini Forum held by CYTED (Ibero-American Programme of Science and Technology for Development), during the presentation of the "Geological Environment and Mining Opportunities in the Azores Sea."

"The Azores are crossed by the largest chain of underwater mountains in the world," the Regional Director said, noting that more than 460 seamounts have been inventoried; the latter occupy an area that corresponds to about 37% of the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Azores. According to him, there are, at least, five hydrothermal fields, which are home to vulnerable marine ecosystems and to "very fragile and special chemosynthetic ecosystems."

"The Government of the Azores considers that the deep-sea exploration of mineral resources is important for the social and economic development of the Region," the government official said, stressing that the need to ensure that this activity is "environmentally sustainable" and that the "economic gains may benefit the Azorean society."

Filipe Porteiro pointed out the proximity of exploitable areas in the archipelago as an asset for the exploration of these resources, noting that "they are at a distance of less than 24 hours from the Region, which is an economic and a logistical advantage.

The Regional Director also defended that the archipelago has "land infrastructures that have the capacity to support these activities," mentioning the example of Praia da Vitória Port on the island of Terceira.

In his speech, Filipe Porteiro highlighted the role of the University of the Azores and IMAR in deep-sea research, which "decisively contributed to the fact Portugal currently ranks fourth in the world for the number of identified seamounts and sixth for the number of identified hydrothermal ecosystems," according to the number of indexed scientific publications.

The Regional Director also stated that, while deep-sea exploration of mineral resources is a reality for the medium-term, "we have just started to build the technological equipment that will allow the commercial exploitation of these resources." In this context, the government official added that the international scientific community recognises "the need to become aware of the environmental impacts of this activity," with special emphasis on sensitive and vulnerable ecosystems like those found in the Azores deep sea.

In this context, the University of the Azores is a partner of European projects intended to assess and mitigate the environmental effects of mining activities in the deep sea. Earlier this month, this institution organised in Horta a conference on the subject in partnership with the International Seabed Authority, an UN organisation with powers to manage these matters in international waters.

According to Filipe Porteiro, we have to overcome the challenges of reconciling the exploitation of resources with their preservation, clarifying the legal framework on resource exploration at an international and national level and ensuring socio-economic benefits so that the mineral exploration of the deep sea may become a reality in the future."


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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