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India applies for mining in Indian Ocean

  • Context (TH): India applied to the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) for rights to explore Afanasy Nikitin Seamount and Carlsberg ridge in the Indian Ocean seabed.
  • These patches are not part of India’s exclusive jurisdiction.

Afanasy Nikitin Seamount

Afanasy Nikitin Seamount MAP - PMF IAS

  • Cobalt-rich crust and a structural feature (400 km long and 150 km wide) in the Central Indian Basin, located about 3,000 km away from India’s coast.
  • It is rich in deposits of cobalt, nickel, manganese and copper.
  • Sri Lanka has already claimed rights to the region.
  • China is also undertaking reconnaissance in this region.

Carlsberg Ridge

  • It is a mid-oceanic ridge area spanning 3,00,000 square km.
  • Location: South of Arabian Sea and northeast of Somali basin in the Central Indian Ocean.
  • India has applied for investigation for polymetallic sulphides in this region.
  • Polymetallic sulphides are large smoking mounds near hydrothermal vents that are reportedly rich in copper, zinc, gold and silver.

Rights over Ocean Resources

Exploration rights

  • Specific to areas that are part of the open ocean, meaning the ocean — whose air, surface and sea-bed — where no countries can claim sovereignty.
  • If a region isn’t classified as part of a country’s continental shelf, it is considered ‘high sea’.
  • Such a region is open to any country approaching the ISBA and asking permission to explore.
  • Currently, no country has commercially extracted resources from open oceans.

Exclusive rights

  • Countries have exclusive rights up to 200 nautical miles and their underlying seabed.
  • Extended continental shelf claims are to be supported with detailed scientific rationale, complete with underwater maps and surveys (Can go up to 350 nautical miles).
  • Bay of Bengal countries can apply a different set of criteria to make claims on the extent of their continental shelf.
    • Using this, Sri Lanka has claimed up to 500 nautical miles (including Afanasy Nikitin Seamount).

International Seabed Authority (ISBA)

  • An autonomous international organisation established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • HQ: Jamaica

Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

  • Another UNCLOS-linked body that decides on the limits of a country’s continental shelf.
  • These recommendations are final and binding.

For more details, visit > Deep Sea Mining.

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