The Ministry of Earth Sciences of India Signs a Second Extension Agreement for the Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the Indian Ocean with the International Seabed Authority
The Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, and the Secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) of India, Dr. Muthalagu Ravichandran, signed a five-year contract extension agreement for the exploration of polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin yesterday in the presence of the Honourable Minister of Earth Sciences of the Government of India, Dr. Jitendra Singh.
The initial contract for exploration for 15 years was signed on 25 March 2002. It was extended with the approval of the ISA Council for a five-year period in 2017. On 30 March 2022, the Council approved a second application for an extension by the Government of India (ISBA/27/C/18).
The five-year extension, granted on the basis that the contractor will be in a position to proceed to exploitation at the end of the extension period, will allow the Government of India to advance its environmental baseline studies and environmental data collection, improve confidence levels in the estimation of resources, obtain more comprehensive high-resolution bathymetric data, further develop its mining and metallurgical process technology and generate a potential exploitation scenario as a basis for moving to the exploitation stage, among other activities.
Secretary-General Lodge congratulated the Government of India on its work so far. “The work done by the MoES under its contract for exploration in the Central Indian Ocean Basin for more than 30 years is impressive. It is a testament to the commitment of India towards advancing our common knowledge of the deep sea and its resources,” he said.
“India’s Deep-sea Ocean Mission, including its contract with ISA, continues to make a tremendous contribution to improving global understanding of the deep-sea environment. I welcome India’s commitment to continue to work through ISA to realize the common heritage of humankind. Such achievements reflect the opportunities offered by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to all countries to participate and benefit from the use of the Area and its resources, particularly developing States,” he added.
The Honorable Minister of Earth Sciences of the Government of India, Dr. Jitendra Singh, extended a warm welcome to the Secretary-General of ISA and said that India, with its 7500-kilometre-long coastal belt, is both a stakeholder as well as a contributor in exploring and utilizing sea resources. Under the leadership of the Indian Prime Minister, the blue economy has been given high priority and the world today recognizes India’s blue economy resources. Dr. Singh also expressed happiness that India continued to be engaged in the category of "pioneer investor" of ISA and at the extension of the exploration contract.
Dr. Ravichandran, Secretary at MoES, also underscored the importance of the exploration activities led by India to advance global understanding and knowledge of the deep sea and its ecosystems. “Under India’s exploration contract for polymetallic nodules, major efforts have been undertaken. They will continue to progress further our understanding of the deep-sea environment while impact assessment and mining technology development will continue towards gaining holistic view on the matter,” Secretary Ravichandran indicated.
“We look forward to strengthening further our cooperation with ISA in enhancing global knowledge of the deep-sea environment and ensuring the sustainable management of seabed resources and the benefits of the Area to co-manage this global common responsibly,” he concluded.