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Polymetallic Nodules Programme (PMNP)

  Mar 17, 2020

Polymetallic Nodules Programme (PMNP)

What is India's PMNP?

India’s exclusive rights to explore polymetallic nodules from seabed in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) have been extended by five years to 2022. These rights are over 75000 sq. km of area in international waters allocated by International Seabed Authority for developmental activities for polymetallic nodules. 

What are the metals in the nodules? 

The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential 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. 

How is India unique?

India is the first country to have received the status of a pioneer investor in 1987 and 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 8-countries/ contractors and is implementing a long–term programme on exploration and utilization of Polymetallic Nodules through Ministry of Earth Sciences. This includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy, in which significant contributions have been made. 

How far are we getting ready for exploration and exploitation?

While, the extraction of metals from the polymetallic nodules lying at the deep ocean floor is not yet found to be economically viable at this stage, an area of about 7860 square km has been identified in the CIOB for the First Generation Mine Site on the basis of detailed surveys and analysis. 

A Remotely Operable Submersible (ROSUB 6000), capable of operating at 6000 m water depth was also developed and tested successfully. A remotely operable in-situ soil testing equipment was also developed for obtaining detailed geotechnical properties of the mining area at CIOB and tested successfully. 

Metallurgical process routes for extracting copper, nickel and cobalt from polymetallic nodules have been developed and tested in a demonstration pilot plant at Hindustan Zinc Limited, Udaipur with a capacity to process 500 kg nodules per day. 

What is 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. India actively contributes to the work of International Seabed Authority.