India to explore mineral deposits off Mauritius coast

India will soon start exploration of mineral deposits, mainly polymetallic sulphides, along the 10,000 sq km mid-ocean ridgeoff Mauritius, a top scientist said here Sunday.

The development comes following approval from the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

“The exploration will actually begin after the Government of India signs a 15-year contract with the ISA,” said National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) director S. Rajan in a plenary session at the ongoing World Ocean Science Congress (WOSC-2015).

“We will be exploring hydrothermal activities and possible sulphide deposits, which have huge economic potential,” he added.

An application for Deep Sea Mining Exploration Licence was lodged with the ISA by the ministry of earth sciences in April 2013 and approval for the plan of work for exploration was given in July 2014.

The project will be implemented in three continuous phases from the date of agreement, he added.

The exploration is expected to lead to vast deposits of lead, zinc and copper ranging from several thousands to about 100 million tonnes.

“The hydrothermal fluids, when mixed with the cold surrounding seawater, are precipitated onto the chimney vents leading to the formation of massive deposits of lead, zinc and copper,” said Rajan.

He also noted that the ministry has given a submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), seeking to extend the country’s Continental Shelf Limit to 350 nautical miles from the current 200 nautical miles.

This will allow the country to widen its area of exploration of large scale mineral deposits, he added.

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