A unit of Keppel Corp. has signed a 15-year seabed exploration contract in its search for rare minerals on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean.
Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte Ltd entered into the contract with the International Seabed Authority for the exploration of polymetallic nodules at a site within the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, a 4,500 mile submarine fracture zone in the Pacific Ocean stretching between Hawaii and Mexico.
The contract follows the approval of OMS’s application for the exploration license of polymetallic nodules awarded by the ISA in July 2014. The license allows for OMS to conduct environmental studies and survey for deposits of polymetallic nodules within the approved area, which encompasses 58,000 square kilometers of ocean floor in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone.
Polymetallic nodules, also called manganese nodules, contain copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, as well as rare earth minerals, and are seen as having the potential of supplying these key metals to meet growing global demand in applications including construction, aerospace and alternative energy.
OMS is majority owned by Singapore-based Keppel Corporation, with UK Seabed Resources Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based Lockheed Martin UK Holdings Ltd, and Singapore-based private investment company Lion City Capital Partners Pte. Ltd., as minority shareholders. OMS is the first Singaporean company to be awarded an exploration contract for polymetallic nodules.
“We are encouraged by reaching another milestone in our journey to find a more sustainable way of supporting the world’s need for metal resources,” said Ong Ye Kung, Director of OMS. “In addition, we look forward to working closely with the ISA and other stakeholders to develop an environmentally responsible and commercially viable solution.”
Seabed mineral recovery beyond nations’ territorial waters is administered by the ISA established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Later this month, the ISA will host an international workshop to discuss the draft framework for harvesting of seabed polymetallic nodules.