Find Mining expertise in Nauru
As one of the great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean, mining has played a dominant role in Nauru’s history and economy, solely accounting for Nauru boasting the highest per-capita income of any sovereign state through the 1960s and early 70s.
The economy of Nauru has been almost wholly dependent on phosphate, which has led to environmental catastrophe on the island, with 80% of the nation’s surface having been strip-mined. The island’s phosphate deposits were virtually depleted by 2000, from decades of extensive mining by private companies and foreign governments, and continued by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation by 2000, although some small-scale mining remained.
After significant repairs to infrastructure, mining of the remaining phosphate reserves by the Republic of Nauru Phosphate Corporation (RONPhos) recommenced in 2005. Remaining phosphate reserves are expected to drain quickly but there is a focus on developing the infrastructure and training needed to create an industry for mining secondary phosphate whose reserves could hold out for a few decades. Nauru is looking off-shore for additional mining opportunities; in 2011 Nauru Ocean Resources Incorporated, co-owned by the Nauru Education and Training Foundation and the Nauru Health and Environment Foundation, was granted a 15-year contract by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for prospecting and exploring deep-sea minerals, including poly-metallic modules, in the Pacific seabed.
Historically most Nauruans have been employed in phosphate mining and in the public sector, working for the government and various agencies. RONPhos is the largest employer in Nauru, providing the majority of Nauru’s government revenues. The company contributed more than 50% to the country’s GDP in 2009.
The right to mine phosphate is vested in the constitution of the Republic of Nauru.
Nauru gained control of phosphate mining activities on the island on 1 July 1970 through the Nauru Phosphate Agreement 1967, under which Nauru, which became independent on 31 January 1968, purchased all phosphate assets and took full control of the Nauruan operation.
In 1989, Nauru filed court proceeding against Australia over a dispute about the rehabilitation of certain phosphate lands mined under Australian administration before Nauruan independence. Nauru claimed that Australia breached its trusteeship obligations under Article 76 of the United Nations Charter and the Trusteeship Agreement for Nauru of 1 November 1947. After a lengthy court battle the two parties reached an out of court settlement in 1993 and agreed to discontinue the proceedings.
Nauru is not currently EITI compliant.