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India, China vie for cobalt rights in Indian Ocean.



  Jun 26, 2024

India, China vie for cobalt rights in Indian Ocean.



FAQs

What triggered the competition for cobalt mining rights in the Indian Ocean?

The increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has prompted India to seek rights to explore cobalt reserves. India’s application to the International Seabed Authority aims to explore cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the Afanasy Nikitin Seamount in the Central Indian Ocean. This move puts India in competition with Sri Lanka, which has sought to extend its continental shelf to include these cobalt reserves within its territorial waters.

Why is cobalt important for India?

Cobalt is a critical element for electric vehicle batteries, aligning with India’s goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. Securing cobalt resources is vital for India’s energy transition and technological advancements.

What steps has India taken to secure these mining rights?

India submitted its application to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on January 18, 2024. The application covers an area of 3,000 square kilometers in the Central Indian Ocean. India has paid $500,000 for the consideration of its application and proposed a detailed exploration plan divided into three phases over 15 years.

How has Sri Lanka responded to India’s application?

Sri Lanka has applied for an extension of its continental shelf limits under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This extension would include the Afanasy Nikitin Seamount, potentially conflicting with India’s claims. In 2022, India opposed Sri Lanka’s claims, citing prejudice to its rights over the continental shelf.

What role does the International Seabed Authority play in this dispute?

The ISA is responsible for evaluating and approving applications for seabed exploration. India’s application was put on hold due to overlapping claims with another country, believed to be Sri Lanka. The ISA’s decision is crucial in determining the rights to explore the disputed area.

How has China’s involvement in the region affected India?

China’s dominance in the cobalt supply chain and frequent mapping activities in the IOR have raised alarms in India. Chinese survey vessels, such as Yuan Wang, have been entering the region, ostensibly for scientific purposes, but also for gathering data beneficial for military uses. This activity has led to heightened tensions and increased scrutiny from India.

What measures has Sri Lanka taken regarding foreign research vessels?

Since January 1, 2024, Sri Lanka has imposed a moratorium on foreign research vessels operating in its waters. This move aims to control and monitor foreign activities, especially those by Chinese vessels, which have been gathering valuable data under the guise of scientific research.

How does this competition impact regional geopolitics?

The competition for cobalt mining rights highlights the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean and the ongoing power struggle between India and China. Control over these resources has significant economic and military implications, influencing regional stability and international relations.

What are the potential outcomes of this dispute?

The ISA’s decision on India’s application and the resolution of Sri Lanka’s claims will significantly impact the geopolitical dynamics in the region. Effective diplomacy and adherence to international laws will be crucial in resolving the dispute and ensuring regional cooperation.

How does this situation reflect broader trends in global resource competition?

The scramble for cobalt in the Indian Ocean mirrors global trends where countries vie for control over critical resources essential for technological and energy advancements. This competition underscores the need for strategic resource management and international collaboration to address the challenges of resource scarcity and geopolitical tensions.


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