NEW DELHI, SEPT 12:  The Cabinet approved extension of a contract between the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules upto 2022. The earlier contract would have expired on March 24, 2017.

“By extending the contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue and would open new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value…Further, it would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in the Indian Ocean,” an official statement said.

Polymetallic nodules, also known as manganese nodules are largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

India had signed a 15 year contract for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the International Seabed Authority on March 25, 2002 with the approval of Cabinet.

India has an area of 75,000, located about 2,000 km away from the southern tip of the country, for exploration of polymetallic nodules.