The ISA Council today continues discussions on the LTC Report presented by its Chairman, Dr. Russell Howorth.

The Commission reported that it had considered six new applications for approval of plans of work for exploration and completed its recommendations in respect of two of them. The applicants are: China Ocean Mineral Resources, Research and Development Association (COMRA); Japan Oil. Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC); Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation; UK Seabed Resources Ltd; (UKSRL); Government of India; and Ocean Mineral Singapore Pty Ltd., (OMS).

 With regard to the status of contracts for exploration, the Chairman noted that three contracts for exploration were pending signature and suggested that those contractors could be guided by the newly issued recommendations relating to training programmes under plan of work for exploration (ISBA/19/LTC/CRP.7/Rev.1). The remaining three applications would be taken up as a matter of priority at the Commission’s next meeting in 2014.

In the light of the increased number of annual reports to be examined, the Commission took the decision to streamline its working procedures. The new procedures included reviewing the annual reports at its first meeting each year to allow members of the Commission’s working groups to prepare their work in advance of the annual session. Additionally, as a result of a request made to the secretariat by the Commission in February, annual reports had been made accessible through a secure website to designated members of the Commission allowing them to work remotely. The Chairman also noted that the secretariat had contracted a consultant to conduct a technical evaluation of the reports, including a detailed analysis of the contractor’s activities, which assisted the work of the Commission.

On the annual reports of contractors, Dr. Howorth reported that all 11 contractors submitted their annual activity reports for the 2012 period in a timely manner, following the general template prescribed by the  Legal and Technical Commission in 2002 (ISBA/8/LTC/2). However, there were inconsistencies in the quality of the reports. As such, the Commission invited the Secretariat to request the contractors to comply with the data submission requirements set out in ISBA/18/C/20.

The Chairman noted that six additional contracts had either been signed during 2013 or were currently in the final stages of negotiation and thus the first reports from those contractors would be forthcoming in subsequent years. Six more applications were currently being considered. He stated that some 17 annual reports would need to be considered in 2014. By 2015 there might be as many as 23 annual reports to be considered, which represented an increase of more than 100% in the Commission’s workload.