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Deep Sea Mining

Focus: GS III- Environment and Ecology

Why in News?

Recently, the Minister of State of Science & Technology presented a national science award to Indian scientists who conducted the world’s first locomotive trials of a deep-sea mining system in the central Indian ocean.

About Deep Sea Mining

  • The deep sea is the region of the ocean below a depth of 200 metres, and the practise of mining for minerals there is referred to as deep-sea mining.
  • The international seabed is defined as the area that lies outside of national jurisdiction and accounts for about 50% of the total area of the world’s oceans, according to the International Seabed Authority, a body established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for monitoring all activities related to mineral resources in the deep sea.
Issues:
  • It may significantly affect marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Deep-sea habitats may change or be destroyed by machine-aided excavation and gauging of the ocean floor.
  • As a result, there will be a loss of species—many of which are unique to the area—as well as a fragmentation or loss of the structure and functionality of the ecosystem.
  • It will agitate the seafloor’s fine sediments and release suspended particle plumes.
  • Mining ships’ surface wastewater discharges make this situation worse.
  • Noise, vibration, and light pollution brought on by mining machinery and surface vessels, as well as potential fuel leaks and spills, could have an impact on species like whales, tuna, and sharks.

About Deep Ocean Mission:

Nodal:  Ministry of Earth Sciences

  • Deep Ocean Mission is a mission mode project to support the Blue Economy Initiatives of the Government of India.
  • Government of India has also launched a ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ for exploration of polymetallic nodules in Central Indian Ocean Basin.
    • Polymetallic nodules contain multiple metals like copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron, lead, zinc, aluminium, silver, gold, and platinum etc. in variable constitutions and are precipitate of hot fluids from upwelling hot magma from the deep interior of the oceanic crust.
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme and no separate allocation for States is envisaged.
  • It is proposed to collaborate with non-governmental organizations for research collaboration for various components of Deep Ocean Mission.
The major objectives proposed under Deep Ocean Mission are as follows:
  • Development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics;
  • Development of ocean climate change advisory services;
  • Technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep sea biodiversity;
  • Deep ocean survey and exploration;
  • Proof of concept studies on energy and freshwater from the ocean; and
  • Establishing advanced marine station for ocean biology.

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