Oceans are a rich treasure of oil, natural gas, minerals including hydrocarbons, rare earth metals, zinc, manganese noodles and other oceanic resources on the seabed. The universes of marine minerals cover offshore and deep sea resources. Deep-sea mining is viewed as a potential sector for promotion of blue economy. Oceanic minerals and offshore mining are considered as the major blue economy sectors. Among the offshore minerals, placers seem to have potential for diverse industrial applications. National and international legislations govern the access, licensing and exploration aspects of marine minerals. Mining within the EEZs are under the preview of national legal provisions. Exploration of seabed resources however requires permission of the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Sustainable harnessing of seabed and offshore minerals will contribute to the growth of blue economy in the Indian Ocean and other parts of the world
Deep Sea Mining
Advancement in exploration technology has enabled the coastal nations to examine the feasibility of exploiting the seabed resources. Research suggests that there is vast unexplored stock of minerals on the seabed such as hydrocarbons, oil &natural gas, manganese noodles, cobalt, rare earth metals, among others. Since the current pace of resource extraction from landmass is alarming in most countries of the world, the demand for minerals can be met by exploration of deep-sea minerals. It is highly dependent on sophisticated technology and requires continuous investment in R&D. It is believed that the potential for exploration of seabed resources in the Indian Ocean is yet to be fully exploited. Some of the Indian Ocean countries including India, Australia, Indonesia and others have made significant investments in developing technology and conducting feasibility studies. Although deep-sea mining opens up opportunities for additional sources of resources, it inflicts costs to the society in terms of adverse effects on the marine environment. Before designing the mining system, proper geological, meteorological and biological assessments should be done. In a regional context like the IORA, the issues of technology transfer and sharing of best practices can also be explored. Australia has a very strong offshore resources sector which could be harnessed for the country as well as for the prosperity of the nation.
Offshore minerals such as placers are important for various industrial applications. In addition to deep sea minerals, offshore minerals could be explored for a sustained supply of metals for manufacturing and other blue economy industries. Resource mapping of offshore resources have been done by a number of countries in the Indian Ocean region. India, Australia, Indonesia and others have taken policy initiatives to harness those precious natural resources. The frontiers of blue economy in the coastal nations can be suitably segmented by scientific resource mapping, investment in cost-effective exploration technologies (from both public and private sources), capacity building and sharing of best practices.