India eyes seabed sulphide mining near Mauritius
The island nation can easily leverage on other countries’ expertise in deep sea mining to get access to deposits data and enrich its minerals base. (Image: Nautilus Minerals)
Mauritius’ thrust on an ocean economy already appears to be getting it a fair share of global eyeballs. India has recently made its first ever exploration claim for seabed poly-metallic sulphide mining in the Indian Ocean near the island nation.
The sub-continental nation has long been providing international assistance to Indian Ocean islands in the course of its mining operations. In 1987, India discovered poly-metallic nodules in the Mascarene basin which were rich in iron and cobalt and communicated vital data on the composition of resources discovered to Mauritius and Seychelles.
The importance of natural mineral resources coupled with the fact that sea-beds have yielded deposits rich in such minerals as copper, cobalt, nickel, manganese, zinc, lead, barium, silver and even gold, can spell big bucks for Mauritius. The island nation can easily leverage on other countries’ expertise in deep sea mining to get access to deposits data and enrich its minerals base.
The current proposal for India to mine poly-metallic sulphide in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius has been placed with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), established as part of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
A senior official from the Indian earth science ministry stated that the ISA’s response is awaited. India already has a dedicated region in the Indian Ocean region for the purpose of mining, he noted.
However, getting a green light from ISA is said to include significant political lobbying. An Indian government official noted that the process is similar to that of a real estate industry or cybersquatting where a lot of small islands and countries play the game of ownerships and claims made years ago.
India’s ocean exploration program is around two decades old and has involved nickel, copper, cobalt and rare earth metals, which are particularly abundant in the Central Indian Basin.
It may be noted that India is the only country registered as Pioneer Investor with a mining site in the Indian Ocean. Other Pioneer Investors include Japan, France and the former Soviet Union but these countries have mining sites in the Pacific Ocean.
India has tested seabed mining to a depth of 512 metres and it’s now targeting depths up to 6,000m.