After protesting China’s exploration of seabed in its vicinity and seabed, India has signed a pact with International Seabed Authority for Exploration of Polymetallic Sulphides in Indian Ocean on 26th September, 2016 in New Delhi, said minister YS Chowdhary in a written reply in Lok Sabha on November 23, 2016.
The contract provides India the exclusive rights of exploration in the area near the Rodridgues Tripple Junction in the southern part of Central India ridge and a part of South-West Indian ridge.
It remains to be seen whether India acquires deep seabed exploration vessel akin to Jialong of China and the club of other developed nations — US, France, Russia and Japan which have developed deep-water technology.
The plan for the survey and exploration along with the environmental baseline for the first five years includes the acquisition of multi-beam bathymetric data, seabed characterization, collection of sediment and rock samples, water column sampling followed by data processing, analysis and interpretation.
The ownership is a joint venture arrangement with International Seabed Authority on equity participation governed by Regulation 19 of International Seabed Authority to exploration of polymetallic sulphides.
China conducted its 118 days of deep sea manned subsmersible mining in the Indian Ocean in March 2015, saying it found large deposits of precious metals besides discovering different hydrothermal areas.
China’s mission ‘Jiaolong’ discovered new hydrothermal deep-sea fissures which emit hot water and its findings could lead to exploring seafloor sulfide deposits containing copper, zinc, gold and silver, which were formed after chemical reactions and rest in the seabed in the form of “chimney vents.”
China had obtained prior approval in 2012 to explore 10,000 sq kms of polymetallic sulphide ore deposit for 15 years in the seabed from the International Seabed Authority (ISA). It has also obtained exclusive rights to mine a 75,000 sq km polymetallic nodule ore deposit in the east Pacific Ocean in 2001.
India, which has acquired its deep-sea survey vessal Samudra Ratnakar from South Korea two years ago, is far behind in terms of technological prowess to match others in conducting similar deep-sea explorations.