New Delhi – 2 February 2023. The Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, and the Secretary at the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) of India, Dr. Muthalagu Ravichandran, signed a five-year contract extension agreement for the exploration of polymetallic nodules in the Central Indian Ocean Basin yesterday in the presence of the Honourable Minister of Earth Sciences of the Government of India, Dr. Jitendra Singh.
The initial contract for exploration for 15 years was signed on 25 March 2002. It was extended with the approval of the ISA Council for a five-year period in 2017. On 30 March 2022, the Council approved a second application for an extension by the Government of India (ISBA/27/C/18).
The five-year extension, granted on the basis that the contractor will be in a position to proceed to exploitation at the end of the extension period, will allow the Government of India to advance its environmental baseline studies and environmental data collection, improve confidence levels in the estimation of resources, obtain more comprehensive high-resolution bathymetric data, further develop its mining and metallurgical process technology and generate a potential exploitation scenario as a basis for moving to the exploitation stage, among other activities.
Secretary-General Lodge congratulated the Government of India on its work so far. “The work done by the MoES under its contract for exploration in the Central Indian Ocean Basin for more than 30 years is impressive. It is a testament to the commitment of India towards advancing our common knowledge of the deep sea and its resources,” he said.
“India’s Deep-sea Ocean Mission, including its contract with ISA, continues to make a tremendous contribution to improving global understanding of the deep-sea environment. I welcome India’s commitment to continue to work through ISA to realize the common heritage of humankind. Such achievements reflect the opportunities offered by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to all countries to participate and benefit from the use of the Area and its resources, particularly developing States,” he added.
The Honourable Minister, Dr. Singh, extended a warm welcome to the ISA Secretary-General during his state visit. “India, with its 7,500-kilometre-long coastal belt, is both a stakeholder and a contributor in exploring and utilizing ocean resources. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, advancing India’s blue economy has been given a high priority. The fact that the world recognizes the significant resources contained under India’s blue economy today is a significant achievement,” Minister Singh said.
“India is proud and happy to continue to play an important role in deep-sea exploration since its engagement as ‘pioneer investor.’ I trust that the work undertaken under the extension of the exploration contract for polymetallic nodules will contribute to consolidating all the research carried out throughout these past several decades,” he added.
Dr. Ravichandran, Secretary at MoES, also underscored the importance of the exploration activities led by India to advance global understanding and knowledge of the deep sea and its ecosystems. “Under India’s exploration contract for polymetallic nodules, major efforts have been undertaken. They will continue to progress further our understanding of the deep-sea environment while impact assessment and mining technology development will continue towards gaining holistic view on the matter,” Secretary Ravichandran indicated.
“We look forward to strengthening further our cooperation with ISA in enhancing global knowledge of the deep-sea environment and ensuring the sustainable management of seabed resources and the benefits of the Area to co-manage this global common responsibly,” he concluded.
Note to editors
ISA is an autonomous international organization mandated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect the seabed for the shared benefit of humankind. ISA is committed to the principle that all nations of the world should be able to benefit from responsible, sustainable, and regulated economic activities in the deep seabed and from the potential resources the deep seabed holds for a global green transition. The ISA works to ensure that the voices of all states and stakeholders, including developing states, civil society organizations and all ISA Member States, are effectively heard in discussions around the sustainable development of the deep seabed.
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