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Union Cabinet approves extension of contract with ISA for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of contract with and International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMS).

The contract is between Union Ministry of Earth Sciences and ISA. It has been extended for a further period of 5 years (2017-22) as the earlier contract is expiring in March 2017.

What are Polymetallic Nodules?

  • Polymetallic nodules (PMN) are also known as manganese nodules.
  • They are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor in the deep sea of the world oceans.
  • Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
  • Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

What extension of Contract means?

  • By extending the contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of PMN in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue.
  • It would open up new opportunities for resources of strategic and commercial value in area beyond national jurisdiction.
  • Further, it would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international players are also active in mineral explorations.

Background

  • India had signed a 15 year contract for exploration of PMN in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the ISA in March, 2002 with the approval of the Union Cabinet.
  • Under this contract, India is having an area of 75,000 sq km located about 2000 km away from her southern tip for exploration of PMN.
  • The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences is carrying out Survey and Exploration, Technology Development (Mining and Extractive Metallurgy) under PNS program through various national institutes.

About International Seabed Authority (ISA)

The ISA is an intergovernmental body that organizes, regulates and control all mineral (non-living resources) related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. It functions under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Presently, the ISA has 167 members and the European Union. The headquarters of ISA is located at Kingston, Jamaica.

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Union Cabinet approves signing of contract for Exploration of Poly metallic Sulphides

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of 15 years contract for undertaking exploration and other developmental activities related to Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS).

The contract was approved between the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The exploration and other developmental activities has been allotted in the area of 10,000 sq km in parts of Central and South – West Indian Ridges (SWIR), located in the Indian Ocean.

Benefits of signing contract

  • India’s exclusive rights for exploration of PMS in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ridge (CIR) and South West Indian Ridge (SWIR) in Indian Ocean will be formalized.
  • It will enhance India’s presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, South Korea and Germany are active.

This exploration program will be implemented by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences with the participation from various national institutes and research organisations/ laboratories.

What are Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS)?

  • PMS are mineral deposit with three or more metals in commercial quantities that may occur in volcanogenic, magmatic or hydrothermal environments.
  • Deep seabed PMS mainly contain iron, silver, gold, zinc, copper, platinum in variable constitutions.
  • They are formed due to precipitation of hot fluids coming from deep interior of the oceanic crust due to upwelling hot magma discharged through mineralized chimneys.
  • Owing to their long term commercial as well as strategic values, PMS found in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention.

About International Seabed Authority (ISA)

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an intergovernmental body that organizes, regulates and control all mineral (non-living resources) related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. It functions under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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