ISA Council Debate Exploration Contract Extension; Hears Status Report

JAMAICA, Kingston (16 July 2015) - - Procedures and criteria for extending contracts for exploration for marine minerals in the seabed Area due to expire soon, were highlighted in the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) on the third day of its Twenty-First session in Kingston (15 July).

Seven contracts were due to expire between March 2016 and March 2017 and the Authority’s Secretariat invited the Council to consider, with a view to adopting, draft procedures and criteria recommended by the Legal and Technical Commission in a working paper (ISBA/21/C/WP.1.).

Status of exploration contracts

The Council first took up a report of the Secretary-General on the status of contracts for exploration for three types of mineral resources in the seabed Area – polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts, (ISBA/21/LTC/8/ Rev.1).  The report also has information on the implementation of the decision of the Authority on overhead charges for exploration contracts contained in document ISA/19/A/12.

Addressing the Council, the Secretary-General said that as at 1 July 2015, of the 26 plans of work approved by the Council, 22 had been signed as contracts for exploration: 14 for exploration for polymetallic nodules; 5 for exploration for polymetallic sulphides and 3 for exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts.
 
Since the twentieth session in 2014, five new contracts making up the totals above had been signed.  These included  a contract for exploration for polymetallic sulphides with IFREMER in an area on the mid-Atlantic Ridge signed on 18 November 2014;  a contract for exploration for polymetallic nodules with Marawa Research and Exploration Limited in a reserved area in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone of the Pacific Ocean was signed on 19 January 2015; and a contract for exploration for polymetallic nodules with Ocean Mineral Singapore Private Limited Company for a reserved area in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean was signed on 15 January 2015 and on 22 January 2015 respectively.

The rest are:  a contract for exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation in an area on the Magellan Mountains in the Pacific Ocean signed on 10 March 2015; and a contract for exploration for polymetallic sulphides signed with the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources of Germany for an area in the Central Indian Ridge and South-east Indian Ridge signed on 6 May 2015. 

It was anticipated that a contract for exploration for polymetallic nodules with the U.K. Seabed Resources Ltd. for an area in Clarion-Clipperton fracture zone would be signed shortly, he said. The contracts with the Government of India for polymetallic sulphides in an area in the Indian Ocean Ridge, as well as with Companhia dePesquisa de Recursos Minerals S.A. of Brazil for cobalt–rich crusts in an area on the Rio Grande in the South Atlantic Ocean would be signed during the course of the year, he added.

A complete list of the contracts, with details of the contractor and the date of entry into force of each contract is provided in annex I to document ISBA/21/LTC/8/Rev.1).

Full Release: SB-21-5

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