The Government of India Submits Two Applications for Approval of Plans of Work for Seabed Exploration in the Indian Ocean
On January 18, 2024, the Government of India submitted two applications to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for approval of two plans of work for exploration in the international seabed area (the Area) of the Indian Ocean.
One application has been submitted for the exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean Ridge (Carlsberg Ridge). The application region, located in the Area in the Central Indian Ocean, covers a total area of 10,000 km² made up of 100 blocks, each 10 km by 10 km in size, with none exceeding 100 km².
The second application was submitted for the exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts of the Afanasy-Nikitin Seamount in the Central Indian Ocean. The area of the application covers 3,000 km² and consists of 150 blocks, with none exceeding 20 km² in size.
The ISA Legal and Technical Commission has been notified. It will consider the application at its next meeting in March 2024 and submit its recommendation on the matter to the Council in due course.
The Government of India currently holds two contracts for exploration in the Indian Ocean. The first is for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin. It was signed on March 25, 2002, extended in 2017 and 2022, and will expire on March 24, 2027. The second exploration contract signed between ISA and the Government of India is for the exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean Ridge. It was signed on September 26, 2016, and will expire on September 25, 2031.
As of today, ISA has 30 contracts for exploration in effect with 20 different sponsoring States for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt ferromanganese crusts in the Indian Ocean, North Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Pacific Ocean. Among the sponsoring States, nine are developing States and six are small island developing States. For an overview of the status of exploration contracts in the Area, please consult the 2023 Annual Report of the Secretary-General, Chapter 4.