The Cook Islands could be ready to mine the seabed for precious minerals in just five years. The prediction comes after the latest deep sea research by the government. Over 400 kgs of nodules like those picured on the right were collected, and it's these which contain the minerals. But the exploitation is controversial and environmentalists say it could damage the delicate eco-system. Other Pacific nations have called for a 10 year moratorium on mining. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Brown said the mining is essential for the future of the Cook Islands economy.