The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the extension of contract between Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules for a further period of 5 years (2017-22). The earlier contract is expiring on 24th March 2017.
By extending the contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue and would open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic 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.
Polymetallic nodules (also known as manganese nodules) are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance. India signed a 15 year contract for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMN) in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) (an Institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a Party) on 25th March, 2002 with the approval of Cabinet. India is presently having an area of 75,000 sq.km., located about 2000 km away from her southern tip for exploration of PMN.
Ministry of Earth Sciences is carrying out Survey & Exploration, Environmental Impact Assessment, Technology Development (Mining and Extractive Metallurgy) under polymetallic nodules program through various national institutes viz. National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT), National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), National Centre for Antarctica and Ocean Research (NCAOR), National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) etc., in accordance with the Contract provisions. India is fulfilling all the obligations of the contract.