India on Monday signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of poly-metallic sulphides (PMS) in the Indian Ocean. Ministry of earth sciences signed the contract was signed by Dr. M Rajeevan, secretary, ministry of earth sciences (MoES), and Nii Allotey Odunton, secretary general of ISA signed the contract.
The ISA is an institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea to which India is a party.
The contract gives India exclusive rights to a 10,000 sq km area along with 15-year plan of work for exploration of PMS along Central Indian Ridge (CIR) and Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) region of the Indian Ocean.
The union cabinet had, on 15 June 2016, approved signing of a 15-year contract by the ministry with the ISA.
PMS, containing iron, copper, zinc, silver, gold, platinum in variable constitutions, are precipitates of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from deep interior of the oceanic crust, discharged through mineralised chimneys. PMS in the ocean ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic values.
By signing the 15-year contract, India's exclusive rights for exploration of PMS in the allotted area in the Indian Ocean will be formalised. Further, it will enhance India's presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.
The ministry of earth sciences will implement the programme with participation from various national institutes and research laboratories/ organisations.