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Korea wins rights to explore deep sea mineral deposits in the Indian Ocean 3,448 times the size of Yeouido

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  • Date : 2014-06-25

Republic of Korea wins rights to explore deep sea mineral deposits in the Indian Ocean
3,448 times the size of Yeouido

 

Becomes the third country, after China and Russia, to secure exploration rights
for the offshore mining of polymetallic sulphides and nodules in open waters

 

   Republic of Korea has secured the exclusive rights to explore a 10,000-square kilometer area, nearly 3,448 times larger than Yeouido (2.9 square kilometers), for polymetallic sulphides* along the Central Indian Ridge.

   * Polymetallic sulphides are metallic minerals formed by the precipitation of solids created as metal ions in magma-heated water, spouting like hot springs 1,000 to 3,000 meters under the sea, where it comes into contact with cold water. Most common forms of such hydrothermal deposits include major metals, such as gold, silver, and copper, and are considered to be a next-generation strategic resource.

 

   The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced the signing of an exploration agreement for the development of polymetallic sulphides in open waters on the Indian Ocean with the International Seabed Authority* (ISA), an organization headed by Secretary-General Nii Allotey Odunton, on June 24, 2014, local time (Jamaica).

   * The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an international organization established to organize and control all deep sea activities and resources in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. It has 166 member states as of March 2014. Republic of Korea acceded to the ISA with the ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in January 1996.

 

  This will be the fourth offshore area Republic of Korea will explore for marine minerals. Currently, it has exclusive rights to search for polymetallic nodules* in the Pacific Ocean (open waters) and polymetallic sulphides in the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) waters of Tonga and Fiji. Republic of Korea has thus far secured rights to explore waters for marine minerals covering a total area of 112,000 square kilometers, nearly 1.12 times the size of the South Korean territory (approximately 100,000 square kilometers).

   * Polymetallic nodules are potato-shaped oxides, 3 to 25 centimeters in diameter, formed by the precipitation of metal elements in sediment in the deep sea (at a depth of approximately 5,000 meters). The nodules contain large amounts of strategic metals, including manganese, copper, nickel, and cobalt.

 

  As the third country, after China and Russia, to secure exploration rights for the offshore mining of polymetallic sulphides and nodules, Republic of Korea has proven its capability to lead the development of deep sea mineral resources to the international community. 

 

< Contracts to explore open waters of major countries >

 

Country

 

 

Areas secured for exploration and mining

 

 

China

 

 

Polymetallic nodules 75,000km(m,00, polymetallic sulphides 10,000 km2 (‘11), ferromanganese crusts 3,000 km2 (’14)

 

 

Russia

 

 

Polymetallic nodules 75,000 km2 (‘01), polymetallic sulphides 10,000 km2 (‘12)

 

 

Japan

 

 

Polymetallic nodules 75,000 km2 (‘01), ferromanganese crusts 3,000 km2 (’14)

 

 

India

 

 

Polymetallic nodules 75,000 km2 (‘02)

 

 

Korea

 

 

Polymetallic nodules 75,000 km2 (‘01), polymetallic sulphides 10,000 km2 (‘14)

 

 

 


*Ferromanganese crusts are minerals formed as metals contained in seawater are absorbed into underwater mountain slopes (at depths of 800 to 2,500 meters), and have concentrations of cobalt, nickel, copper, and manganese, among others.

 

  The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) explored a 300,000-square kilometer area for over three years from 2009. Then, in 2012[KHTS1] , it submitted an application to the ISA for exclusive rights to explore a promising 10,000-square kilometer area. After acquiring authorization, Republic of Korea signed a contract which officially granted it exclusive exploration rights for the development of polymetallic sulphides.

 

  This contract will enable Republic of Korea to conduct a detailed exploration of 10,000 square kilometers for the next fifteen years, until 2029, and reserve an area of 2,500 square kilometers to develop and apply for development rights to the ISA.

* Pursuant to the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Sulphides in the Area[KHTS2] , the contractor must reserve 25 percent of the exploration area for development within ten years from the date of signing the contract and relinquish 75 percent of the area to ISA.

 

 

 Moon Hae-nam, head of marine policy at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, said, “This will place us in an advantageous position in the acquisition and development of deep sea mineral resources, a future strategic resource,” and added, “We have high expectations that the current development of equipment to explore deep sea mineral resources will not only lead to exports, but also trigger the expansion and application of technology intended for use in extreme environments, such as shipbuilding, air, and space.”

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Last Update : 2020-03-07