Economy, Business And Markets

Plan to Expand Deep Sea Mining to Int’l Waters

Plan to Expand Deep Sea Mining to Int’l WatersPlan to Expand Deep Sea Mining to Int’l Waters

Iran is planning to implement projects aimed at mapping and exploring deep-sea mineral deposits in international waters, deputy head of the Geological Survey of Iran (GSI), Behrouz Borna announced, IRNA reported.

“Over the past years, GSI has conducted exploration operations in the Persian Gulf, Oman Sea, and the Caspian Sea in the depths of 100, 200, and 900 meters respectively. The explorations led to the discovery of gas hydrates and manganese nodules in addition to other minerals. We are determined to expand the exploration of mineral resources to international waters,” Borna said.

The GSI official, however, noted that Iran’s current technical know-how only allows it to explore the territorial waters, adding that exploring the international waters requires modern technologies, which Iran is yet to acquire.

The seabed is extremely rich in polymetallic nodules, extraction of which could help develop the countries’ mining sector considerably, said Borna, noting that the costly technologies and equipments required for mineral extractions from seabed render it more expensive than extraction from land.

Deep sea mining is a relatively new mineral retrieval process that takes place on the sea floor. Sea mining sites are usually around large areas of polymetallic nodules or active and extinct hydrothermal vents at about 1,400-3,700 meters below the water surface. The vents create sulfide deposits, which contain valuable metals such as silver, gold, copper, manganese, cobalt, and zinc.

Countries such as Canada, Australia, Japan, the UK, and the US have so far made significant progresses in exploring and extracting marine mineral resources. Iran’s responsible body in geological surveys and mineral explorations, the GSI, has also run a special department dubbed the Marine Management Department to carry out studies in the area. The department has so far managed to discover considerable resources of titanium and ferrous deposits on the seafloors of the Caspian and Oman Seas, said the GSI official, adding that gas hydrates below the water are usually found in the form of the highly valuable frozen ice. According to the official, every cubic meter of the gas hydrates contains 1,064 cubic meters of methane.

Iran’s proximity to large seas creates great potential for marine explorations, but lack of modern technology poses a major obstacle to developing the sector – a problem that can only be overcome through interaction with the leading countries in this sphere.

According to GSI officials, India is among the countries that enjoy great economic benefits from deep sea mining by extracting iron and manganese at the depth of 3,000 meters in the Indian Ocean. Based on the United Nations 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea, all states enjoy the traditional freedoms of navigation, over-flight, scientific research, fishing, and exploration and extraction on the high seas.