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India's Deep-Sea Mining: Indian Ocean Initiatives



  Apr 01, 2024

DEEP-SEA MINING INITIATIVES BY INDIA:INDIAN OCEAN



India has shown a proactive interest in exploring deep-sea mining within the Indian Ocean, focusing on regions rich in metal deposits crucial for technological and green energy advancements. This exploration centers on two specific areas: the Carlsberg Ridge and the Afanasy-Nikitin Seamount (ANS), with India having submitted applications for exploration rights to the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Understanding these initiatives sheds light on the potential benefits and environmental concerns associated with deep-sea mining.

India’s Interest in Deep-Sea Mining

India’s exploration endeavors are motivated by the pursuit of metal-rich areas in the Indian Ocean. The Carlsberg Ridge, located to the west of India, and the ANS, to the east, are under consideration due to their significant deposits of cobalt, copper, manganese, nickel, and other metals essential for various industries, including electronics and renewable energy.

Regulatory Oversight by the ISA

The ISA, an autonomous international organization established under the United Nations, governs mining activities in international waters, ensuring that any exploration or extraction activities are conducted responsibly and sustainably. India’s applications for exploration are subject to ISA’s approval, considering both legal and environmental implications.

Exploration Areas: Carlsberg Ridge and ANS

• Carlsberg Ridge: This region is known for its polymetallic nodules containing commercially viable quantities of multiple metals. The exploration here aims to secure alternative sources for metals currently obtained through environmentally and socially detrimental land mining practices.
• Afanasy-Nikitin Seamount (ANS): Named after the 15th-century Russian merchant who documented his travels to India, the ANS seamount is rich in cobalt and other metals critical for the manufacturing of batteries and electronic devices.

Challenges and Environmental Concerns

While deep-sea mining offers a potential solution to the ethical and environmental issues associated with terrestrial mining, it is not without its challenges. Concerns have been raised about the possible irreversible impact on marine ecosystems, including damage to coral reefs and other marine life. The process involves disruptive activities such as dredging, which can release toxic materials into the ocean, affecting the food chain and marine biodiversity.

India’s Role and the Global Context

India’s initiative places it among a group of nations exploring deep-sea mining as a means to secure mineral resources for future technological and energy needs. However, the global debate on deep-sea mining underscores the need for a careful balance between resource extraction and environmental conservation. With the ISA’s regulatory oversight, there is an emphasis on ensuring that such activities are conducted responsibly, with minimal impact on marine ecosystems.

Conclusion

India’s push towards exploring the metal-rich seabeds of the Indian Ocean highlights the growing interest in deep-sea mining as an alternative to conventional mining practices. While promising in terms of resource acquisition, the environmental implications of deep-sea mining necessitate a cautious and well-regulated approach to safeguard marine life and ecosystems. As India awaits the ISA’s decision on its exploration applications, the global community continues to weigh the benefits against the environmental costs of venturing into the deep sea for mining.


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