Deep-sea mining

The Main Players

Main players in exploration

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has issued permits and entered into 15-year contracts for exploration for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the deep seabed with 22 contractors; a further four are agreed but pending contract.

Fourteen of these contracts are for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone and Central Indian Ocean Basin. There are five contracts for exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the South West Indian Ridge, Central Indian Ridge and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and three contracts for exploration for cobalt-rich crusts in the Western Pacific Ocean.

The contractors are a mix of corporate enterprises and state-owned companies, with several governments keen to establish the rights to mine and to gain a foothold on the international seabed.

Polymetallic nodules – abyssal plain

Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte Ltd.
Sponsoring state: Singapore
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

UK Seabed Resources Ltd.
Sponsoring state: United Kingdom
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

G‑TEC Sea Mineral Resources NV
Sponsoring state: Belgium
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Marawa Research and Exploration Ltd.
Sponsoring state: Kiribati
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Tonga Offshore Mining Limited
Sponsoring state: Tonga
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Nauru Ocean Resources Inc.
Sponsoring state: Nauru
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources of Germany
Sponsoring state: Germany
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Government of India
Location: Indian Ocean

Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Sponsoring state: France
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Deep Ocean Resources Development Co. Ltd.
Sponsoring state: Japan
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association
Sponsoring state: China
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Government of the Republic of Korea
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Yuzhmorgeologiya
Sponsoring state: Russian Federation
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Interoceanmetal Joint Organization
Sponsoring state: Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, Poland, Russian Federation & Slovakia
Location: Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone

Polymetalllic sulphides – hydrothermal vents

Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources of the Federal Republic of Germany
Sponsoring state: Germany
Location: Central Indian Ocean

Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Sponsoring state: France
Location: Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Government of the Republic of Korea
Sponsoring state: Korea
Location: Central Indian Ridge

Government of the Russian Federation
Location: Mid-Atlantic Ridge

China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association
Sponsoring state: China
Location: Southwest Indian Ridge

Cobalt-rich ferromanganese – seamounts

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation
Sponsoring state: Russian Federation
Location: Magellan Mountains, Pacific Ocean

Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC)
Sponsoring state: Japan
Location: Western Pacific Ocean

China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA)
Sponsoring state: China
Location: Western Pacific Ocean

Main players in science

The Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI)
This is a grouping of deep-sea scientists which will provide important scientific information and help shape the research and advice necessary to inform the regulations.

Managing Impacts of Deep-Sea Resource Exploitation – the MIDAS Project
This is a multi-disciplinary project funded by the European Commission involving marine research institutes across Europe, investigating environmental impacts of deep-sea mining in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Main players in civil society

DSCC member organizations focused on seabed mining include WWF, Greenpeace International, Seas At Risk, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Deep Sea Campaign, EarthWorks, The Global Ocean Trust and several others.

The Bellagio Group includes the World Economic Forum, industry, Commonwealth Secretariat, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and government officials. It is undertaking initiatives on transparency, financial regulations and protected areas.