UN-affiliated Seabed Authority seeks regulations on minerals outside national boundaries

15 August 2005

The United Nations-affiliated International Seabed Authority today started a two-week session with an agenda that includes developing a legal framework for exploiting rich, recently discovered mineral deposits in the deep ocean beyond national jurisdictions, an area called “the common heritage of all mankind.”

The United Nations-affiliated International Seabed Authority today started a two-week session with an agenda that includes developing a legal framework for exploiting rich, recently discovered mineral deposits in the deep ocean beyond national jurisdictions, an area called “the common heritage of all mankind.”

Meeting at its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, the 148-member Authority will discuss a draft text from its Legal and Technical Commission responding to a Russian request for rules and regulations for mineral resources other than the polymetallic nodules that used to be the main focus of the Authority’s work.

The Commission’s nine-part draft covers prospecting in the deep non-national ocean for polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts - mineral resources that are rich in copper, iron, zinc, silver, gold and cobalt. Polymetallic nodules are potato-shaped and are often found partially buried in areas of the deep seabed, while polymetallic sulphides are found around volcanic hot springs and ferromanganese cobalt crusts occur on oceanic ridges.

The draft says the elected, policy-making, 36-member Council must approve a plan of work for each contractor for an area of no more than 10,000 square kilometres. The protected contract would last 15 years, with contractors submitting annual progress reports. The draft also contains provisions for protecting and preserving the marine environment.

 

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