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Cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts occur at shallower depths of < 400 to about > 5000 meters in areas of significant volcanic activity. The crusts grow on hard-rock substrates of volcanic origin by the precipitation of metals dissolved in seawater in areas of seamounts, ridges, plateaus and where prevailing currents prevent deposition of unconsolidated sediments and occupy large areas on top of these topography highs. In many cases, the deposits occur within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the countries.
Similar in general composition to the polymetallic nodules, cobalt crusts are attracting investment in exploration for higher cobalt percentage (up to 2 %), platinum (0.0001 %) and Rare Earth Elements (REE) besides Nickel and Manganese.
ISA has entered into five exploration contracts for cobalt-rich crusts with contractors, including JOGMEC (Japan), COMRA (China), Russia, the Republic of Korea and CPRM (Brazil). .