India dives into deep sea mining as it battles for a clean future

India hopes to widen an undersea hunt for limitless metals that hold the key to clean energy. The move comes amid warnings from France and others that harvesting the seas could devastate ecosystems.

India, already the holder of two exploration rights, has sought two more from the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The country wishes to expand its hunt for cobalt, nickel, copper and manganese – materials that are essential for making solar panels, electric vehicles and defence systems.

India’s latest applications seek permissions to explore a vast patch of 75,000 square kilometres of the metal-rich Indian Ocean covering 70.5 million square kilometres of the planet.

More than 1.5 million square kilometres of the international seabed have already been marked for exploration.

A clearance by the Jamaica based ISA will make India’s seabed permit count climb to four, bringing it on par with Russia and one behind China, a nation opposed to any pause to underwater activity.

Sri Lanka has also staked a claim on a patch in the Bay of Bengal.

Several countries have opposed the mad rush by maritime prospectors. French President Emmanuel Macron, in 2022, became the first head of state to seek an outright ban on undersea mining in international waters, though this has not yet eventuated.

Natural historian David Attenborough lent his voice as he, too, wants a halt to deep sea mining, describing it as the destruction of “an ecosystem about which we know pathetically little”.

Seabed sprint

Read more on RFI English

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