India on Wednesday approved signing of a 15 year contract between its Earth Sciences Ministry and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for undertaking exploration and other developmental activities related to polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean.
The nod was given at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Polymetallic replacements, which are generally found in form of sulphides, refers to deposits of metallic minerals formed when molten lava intrudes into beds of sedimentary rocks. These are are significant sources of copper, gold, silver, lead, manganese, and zinc.
The exploration will be done in the allotted area of 10,000 sq km in parts of Central and South - West Indian Ridges (SWIR), in the Indian Ocean.
"By signing the 15 year contract, India's exclusive rights for exploration of polymetallic sulphides in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ridge, and South West Indian Ridge in Indian Ocean will be formalised," an official statement said.
"It will enhance India's presence in the Indian Ocean where other players like China, Korea and Germany are active. The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences with the participation from various national institutes and research laboratories and organisations," it added.
These polymetallic sulphides in the Ocean Ridges have attracted worldwide attention for their long term commercial as well as strategic values.
This comes after the ISA, under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), approved an application submitted by India for allotment of 10,000 square km area along with 15 years plan of work for exploration of polymetallic sulphide (PMS) along these two areas.
ISA governs non-living resources of the seabed lying in international waters.