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New Age of Exploration into Uncharted Deep-sea Bed

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Date 2018. 4.25. Hit 2104

- MOF signs a contract on“prospecting and exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in West Pacific high sea”with ISA on March 27 -


The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF; Minister Kim, Young-Choon) announced its plan to sign a contract on “prospecting and exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in West Pacific high sea” in The Plaza hotel in Seoul on March 27, 2018. The signing ceremony is attended by the Minister Kim, Young-Choon of the MOF and Secretary General Michael William Rodge of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) as signees.


This contract covers 3,000 ㎢ in total for mining areas which dwarfs Seoul and Yeouido with 6 times and 350 times larger scales, respectively. The areas expectedly contains as much as 40 million tones of ferromanganese crusts consisting of a great quantity of cobalt and rare earth. Comparatively shallow water of the spot (800 –2,500 m) also eases mining with cost-saving effect for the work.


Signing ceremony is following the approval from the ISA for exclusive right to prospect for securing mining areas (July 2017), preceded by 6-times pre-survey (2013-2015) in the areas.


The contract provides Korea with the right to distinguish 1,000 promising mining spots from 3,000 ㎢ by 2028 to finally obtain the right to develop in 2033.


With the right to prospect and explore from the contract, Korea secured the 5 th exclusive mining area and resultant marine economic regions up to 115,000 ㎢. The other 4 mining areas include the North East Pacific Clarion - Clipperton area for manganese nodules; and Central Indian ocean, Tonga EEZ, and Fiji EEZ for polymetallic sulphides.


Annual 1 million tones of commercial production in the area could generate KRW 11 trillions worth of substitution effect on mining import. As a follow-up measure, the MOF plans to implement detailed survey by advanced equipment, while relevant law & regulations enforcement and promotion of private investment will be arranged.


Deputy Minister Cho, Seung-whan for Marine Policy Office of the MOF stated “signing this contract serves as a meaningful step to enable Korea to be the 3rd country obtaining exclusive rights to prospect for all three major minerals (manganese nodules, polymetallic sulphides and ferromanganese crusts), following China and Russia. The MOF is committed itself to a great leap forward the marine leader as working hard to establish an institutional framework for deep-sea bed exploration.