UN International Seabed Authority winds up work for this year

26 August 2005

The United Nations-affiliated International Seabed Authority has ended its work for the year, but postponed consideration of new regulations to govern exploration for rich, recently discovered mineral deposits in the deep ocean beyond national jurisdictions, an area called “the common heritage of all mankind.”

The 148-member Authority, meeting from 15 to 25 August at its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, deferred discussing a draft text from its Legal and Technical Commission on the deposits because the elected, policy-making, 36-member Council had not finished reviewing it.

The text responded to a Russian request for rules and regulations governing other mineral resources than the potato-shaped polymetallic nodules that used to be the main focus of the Authority’s work.

The nine-part draft covers prospecting in the “common heritage” ocean for polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts - mineral resources that are rich in copper, iron, zinc, silver, gold and cobalt. Polymetallic sulphides are found around volcanic areas and ferromanganese cobalt crusts occur on oceanic ridges.

The next meeting will take place from 7 to 18 August next year.


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