The International Seabed Authority (ISA) in its 23rd session recently held at Kingston, Jamaica has extended India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB).
These rights extend over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by ISA for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules. The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential of this area is around 380 million tonnes, containing nickel (4.7 million tonnes), copper (4.29 million tonnes), cobalt (0.55 million tonnes) and manganese (92.59 million tonnes).
India was the first country to receive the status of a pioneer investor for exploration and utilization of polymetallic nodules. It was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) in 1987. India is one among the top 8-countries to implement a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules. Through Ministry of Earth Sciences it carries survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy.
Polymetallic nodules (also called as manganese nodules) are small potato-sized (from millimetres to tens of centimetres in diameter) lumps of minerals found in deep sea. They contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, cadmium, vanadium, molybdenum, titanium in various proportions of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance. They are found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea.
International Seabed Authority (ISA)
ISA is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. It was established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Its headquarters are in Kingston, Jamaica.
Its mandate is to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond limits of national jurisdiction (exclusive economic zone), an area underlying most of world’s oceans. India actively contributes to the work of ISA. It was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA in 2016.