Four Pending Applications For Exploration Contracts Represent New Milestone For Seabed Authority

KINGSTON, JAMAICA, 13 June 2011 - - The most important substantive issue to be considered during the forthcoming Session will be the consideration of four pending applications for exploration contracts in the Area.

Speaking at the 21st Meeting of the States Parties to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in New York, Mr. Nii A. Odunton, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority said two of the four applications were for exploration of reserved areas by private sector entities sponsored by developing States - the first such applications to have been made, and as such, represent a new milestone in the life of the Authority and for the regime for deep seabed mining under the Convention and the 1994 Agreement.

The other two applications pending consideration, sponsored by China and the Russian Federation respectively are also ground breaking in nature as they represent the first applications to have been made for contracts for exploration for polymetallic sulphides - a new type of mineral resource for which regulations were adopted by the Authority in 2010.

Mr Odunton said these applications combined with the significantly increased interest on the part of private sector mining companies and deep ocean technology companies in participating in the seminars and workshops organized by the Authority indicate a renewed commercial interest in deep seabed mining as an alternative source for the minerals needed to fuel economic development in many parts of the world.

"This is encouraging both for the Authority and member States, who will be the ultimate beneficiaries from seabed mining", he said.

Mr Odunton said the Authority was also under pressure to deliver an appropriate level of protection for the Area and the measures currently under consideration and also to be discussed in this regard at the 17th Session include proposals for an environmental management plan at the regional scale for the Clarion Clipperton Zone and proposals for the management of chemosynthetic environments in the global ocean.