Sea Bed Mining

Anjan Kumar Chatterjee

Formerly with Geological Survey of India and Now with Gondwana Geological Society,

Nagpur-440001(MS), India


The seabed is surely one of the last mining frontiers on earth remaining for mankind, to extract economic mineral deposits. It is hence imperative that India with its Obvious Geological Potential (OGP) area on the land surface amounting to 0.57 million km, for which baseline geoscience data has been generated and mineral exploration activities are ongoing, needs to be supplemented with mineral wealth on our sea beds, within our Territorial Waters (TW) and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Studies by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and other agencies for mineralized horizons in the terrestrial OGP areas have been a continuous process. The baseline geoscience and mineral exploration data are published regularly by GSI and Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and made available to respective stakeholders. India has a 2.02 million km area under its TW and EEZ. Our East and West Coasts of the Peninsular India are endowed with phosphate, manganese nodules, lime mud and monazite sands with rare earth elements (REE) and thorium that have been surveyed by the Marine and Coastal Survey Division (MCSD) of the GSI with their research vessels to establish the potentiality. According to the data available, 1,53,996 million tons of lime mud within the EEZ off Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts, 745 million tons of construction grade sand, off Kerala coast, 79 million tons of heavy mineral placers in the inner-shelf and mid-shelf, off Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, phosphorite in the
Eastern and Western continental margins, polymetallic ferromanganese nodules and crusts in Andaman Sea and Lakshadweep Sea have been reported. The CSIR- National Institute of Oceanography has been embarking on research for seabed mineral deposits. The Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, passed by Lok Sabha on 01.08.2023, has amendments to the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, OAMDR Act (Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India, 2002). It envisages major initiatives to allow auction of mineral blocks 45° X 45° (latitude and longitude) in respect of any mineral or prescribed group of associated minerals, under one or more operating rights (taken together). The Act has a provision for setting up of a non-lapsable Offshore Areas Mineral Trust to maintain a fund under the Public Account of India. This fund will be financed by a yet to be determined, additional levy on the production of offshore minerals that will be used for exploration, research, disaster relief and for mitigation of adverse impacts of seabed mining. We have the National Exploration Trust and the District Mineral Foundation Trust funds, to which royalties are paid by stakeholders for onshore mining.

× How can I help you?