What are Polymetallic nodules?
- Polymetallic nodules are potato shaped containing multiple metals like copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron, lead, zinc, aluminium, etc. Of these, cobalt, copper and nickel are of much importance and in great demand. These three metals of strategic needs are fast depleting from the face of the earth. Hence a world-wide search is on for the potato-shaped nodules.
- Government of India had signed a 15 year contract with International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of polymetallic nodules from Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) in 2002. This right to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed has been extended by five years. These rights are over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters.
- The area has been allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules.
- The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential of the area is 380 million tonnes, containing 4.7 million tonnes of nickel, 4.29 million tonnes of copper and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt and 92.59 million tonnes of manganese.
- India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor. It was allocated an exclusive area in Central Indian Ocean Basin by United Nations (UN) for exploration and utilization of nodules.
- India is one among the top eight countries/ contractors implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules. The project is being carried out under the oversight of Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- The project includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy.
- Environmental studies for mining of deep-sea polymetallic nodules have been carried out to evaluate the possible impacts of mining on deep-sea environment.
- A remotely operable in-situ soil testing equipment has been deployed for obtaining detailed geotechnical properties of the mining area.
International Seabed Authority (ISA)
International Seabed Authority (ISA) is a UN body set up to regulate the exploration and exploitation of marine non-living resources of oceans in international waters. In 2016 India was re-elected as a member of Council of ISA.