India to explore Indian Ocean for precious metals

India to explore Indian Ocean for precious metals

New Delhi (ISJ) ? India has signed a 15-year contract with International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Indian Ocean for precious metals like gold, platinum, silver, copper, zinc. The contract gives India exclusive rights to explore Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) along Central Indian Ridge and Southwest Indian Ridge region of the Indian Ocean. The ISA is an institution set up under the Convention on Law of the Sea, to which India is a party.

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 mineralized chimneys.� The contract will give exclusive rights to Indian research organisations in the allotted area to collect scientific data during the exploration phase, but not for extraction of minerals for commercial objectives, said Dr. Milind Wakdikar, Scientist in the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

?We are in process of developing technology in phase-wise manner for extraction of poly-metallic nodules (PMN) lying at water depth of 4000-6000 m. This technology has been demonstrated at water depth of 500m for PMN. Extractive metallurgical process routes have also been developed for extracting Copper, Nickel and Cobalt from PMN,? Dr. Wakdikar told Indian Science Journal.

The deal, cleared by the Union Cabinet recently, will afford India its presence in the Indian Ocean, where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active.

As a contractor, India will have to pay USD 47000 per year as overhead charges while submitting its Annual Report to the ISA.

National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa under the Ministry of Earth Sciences will carry out the exploration, which is expected to begin in the next six months.

Image courtesy: NCAOR

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