The International Seabed Authority reached a milestone in its administration of the mineral resources of the deep seabed Area with the approval of exploration plans for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts by Chinese and Japanese entities as it concluded its nineteenth session a day earlier in Kingston (15-25 July).

China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) are to be issued contracts by the Authority following the approval of their plan of work by the Authority’s expert body, the Legal and Technical
Commission and a recommendation from its Council.

In another significant decision, the Authority’s legislative body, the Assembly on the last day of the session adopted a draft decision to institute a fixed overhead charge of $47,000 to be payable annually
by contractors to cover the administration and supervision of contracts as well as the review of contractors’ reports by the Authority.

Delegations hailed the first contracts being awarded for exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the Area as an important development in the Authority’s work. Regulations covering the metal (ISBA/18/C/L.3) were adopted by the Authority at its eighteenth session on 26 July 2012.

Cobalt crusts are rich in iron/manganese (ferromanganese), and hydroxide/oxide deposits containing significant concentrations of cobalt, titanium, nickel, platinum, molybdenum (an essential element in human nutrition), tellurium, cerium and other metallic and rare earth elements.

The Assembly, in another decision, adopted amendments to the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area, as contained in the annex to the decision of the Council (ISBA/19/C/17).