Topic: – Geography- Mineral & Energy Resources
Syllabus:- Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent); factors responsible for the location of primary, secondary, and tertiary sector industries in various parts of the world (including India).
Give account of distribution of Polymetallic nodules around the world. Explicate the significance of India’s ‘Pioneer investor’ status accorded by the International Seabed Authority. (Answer in 250 words, 15 marks)
§ Introduction:-. • Introduce a definition of polymetallic nodules. Also mention pioneer status given to India.
§ Body: – • Body of the answer should include distribution of polymetallic nodules across the globe.
§ You can draw maps and diagrams for illustration.
§ Also discuss the significance of India’s ‘Pioneer investor’ status accorded by the International Seabed.
§ Conclusion: – A conclusion with what is the current position in this regard can be given.
Polymetallic nodules are small potato-like rounded accretions composed of minerals such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper and iron hydroxide. As nodules are often found in vast quantities, and contain valuable metals, deposits are identified as a possible economic interest.
Polymetallic Nodules size varies from a few millimeters to centimeters. They are found on all oceans floors and even in lakes. However, nodules of economic interest are more localized. Four areas have been selected by industrial explorers:
- CLARION-CLIPPERTON ZONE (CCZ): The CCZ is located in the Pacific, extending from the west coast of Mexico to Hawaii. This is the largest area of polymetallic nodules. The nodules are not evenly distributed over this area. At some sites they are more densely grouped.
- PERU BASIN: The Peru Basin lies about 3000 kilometres off the Peruvian coast. It is about half as large as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
- PENRHYN BASIN: This is the third important manganese nodule area in the Pacific is located in the Penrhyn Basin very near the Cook Islands, a few thousand kilometres east of Australia. It has an area of around 750,000 square kilometres.
- INDIAN OCEAN: It is located in the central Indian Ocean. This area has reserves in comparison to the Penrhyn basin of Pacific Ocean. This area holds very much importance for India’s mineral security.
India – ‘Pioneer Investor ‘in 1987
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, The estimated polymetallic nodule resource potential is 380 million tonnes.
India was the first country to receive the status of a ‘Pioneer Investor ‘in 1987. Giving India ‘Pioneer investor’ status by the International Seabed Authority has following significance:
- Establishing India as a world leader: India is among the top 8 countries which are carrying out exploration of polymetallic nodules. This includes survey and exploration, environmental studies, technology development in mining and extractive metallurgy, in which significant contributions have been made.
- Strategic significance: Presently, China is controlling more than 95% of rare earth metals. If India will be successful in extracting minerals from these nodules then it will nullify the increasing influence of China. Also, it will strengthen the bilateral relationship of India with Japan, Germany and South Korea.
- Mineral security: India is entirely dependent on imports to meet its requirements of cobalt, which is the most strategic of the three metals (cobalt, copper and nickel). As for copper and nickel, India is in a precarious position.
- Economic significance: There are many avenues economically such as:
- Empowering the coastal communities and attaining greater social and economic inclusion by providing Employment opportunities, skill-sets and capacities.
- Development of a blue economy in the country.
- These metals can be used in electronic devices, smartphones, batteries and even for solar panels thus
- Helping in Promotion of entrepreneurship in new areas of economic activity and new development in the electronics industry.
Polymetallic nodules have economic, strategic, and security potential besides others. It can not only revive our blue economy but also help in fulfilling SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and SDG 14 (Life below water).