Government of India
Ministry of Earth Sciences,
Prithvi Bhavan,IMD Campus, Opp. India Habitat Centre,Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110003
POLYMETALLIC NODULES PROGRAMME
Polymetallic nodules on the ocean floor are considered to be treasure house of much needed metals. The potato-shaped, largely porous nodules, are found in abundance carpetting the sea floor of world Oceans. These nodules are of much economic importance because, besides maganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which cobalt, copper, and manganese are considered to be of strategic importance. The economic potential of some of these metals is known to be enormous. Survey confirmed that about 15 million sq. km. of the Indian Ocean have nodules of different size and quality. The nodules are found mostly at depths ranging from 3500m to 6000m. After a very intensive survey, India identified sites in the central Indian Ocean having nodules deposits. Pursuant to vigorous sailing and bathymetric survey, International Seabed Authority allocated to India an area of 1,50,000 square kilometer in the Central Indian Basin in 1987 and India became the first Pioneer investor for exploration of nodules from seabed. India has developed considerable expertise in metallurgical processes and is at an advanced stage of establishing two or three pilot plants for metal extraction from nodules. A nucleus for developing a test mining system has also been established. India's potential capabilities in deep seabed mining have been recognised worldwide. Norway, Finland and Japan have offered assistance for developing a test mining system jointly. The Department of Ocean Development which has been designated as the nodal agency responsible for implementing the deep seabed mining programme , has drawn up a long term plan aiming to fulfil its obligations as Pioneer Investor as well as reach the stage for seeking production authorisation as quickly as possible.