Russia and India had previously expressed mutual interest in Iron ore and mining coal in Russia as a step to increase the trade and economic ties between the two nations. Both the countries are working together to explore coking coal and Iron ore mining in Russia’s Arctic north.
Also, the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, India, has signed an MoU with Krylov State Research Centre in Russia to develop machines and tools in order to mine minerals from the deep sea owned by India in the Indian Ocean. India has rights around over 75,000 square kilometers in the Indian Ocean’s International waters for mining and development activities provided by International Seabed Authority (ISA). For the exploration and mineral mining from deep sea, India and Russia have collaborated. These collaborations are expected to develop machines, deep-sea mining equipment, and submersible manned vehicles for inspection and proper processing.
The ocean Indian ocean floor has polymetallic nodules that contain minerals such as copper, manganese, cobalt, nickel, etc. The program’s intention is to extract these potato-shaped polymetallic nodules from the ocean bed. These metals can be used in electronic industries, batteries, solar cell equipment, etc. However, the floor is located at a depth of approximately 5.5 Kms from the ocean surface. This depth can cause several issues in mining minerals from the ground. The water pressure at this depth is very high, which requires specialized technology and equipment design.
The ministry of earth sciences, India has estimated the potential of polymetallic nodules residing in this region to about 380 million tonnes, which contains 4.7 MT of nickel, 0.55 MT of cobalt, 4.29 MT of copper and 92.59 MT of manganese, while the rest could be Iron ore or other minerals.
Several other countries, for instance, China, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Russia, have all started this trend of deep-sea mining. Most of these countries have tested their equipment in the shallow waters and will start mining in a couple of years.
“This is a very challenging task,” M. A. Atmanand, Director of NIOT, said. This project will be achieved by the collaboration on both parties for mutual benefits. The machine requires to work in deep-sea and pulls the polymetallic nodules with it to the surface. Krylov would offer its high-pressure pumps and its ability to test the vehicles at deep sea levels. This machine was expected to test in the Indian Ocean in February, but it would likely be delayed later this year due to current circumstances. We can expect the demonstration of mineral mining in a couple of years.
According to ISA, these deep-sea mining will be commercially viable only if they can mine 3 ML per year. To be able to extract effectively, more research and study is currently in progress in this direction.