ISA Contracts

Prospecting and mining on the seabed in international waters (the Area) requires a contract from the International Seabed Authority (ISA).  ISA Member States are eligible to apply for two types of ISA contracts.  There are:

  1. Exploration.  Contracts govern data-gathering, sampling and reporting.
  2. Exploitation.  Contracts govern all aspects of actual mining.

At the end of 2016, 26 exploration contracts (see tables below) and no exploitation contracts were in effect.  It is expected that there will be no exploitation contracts until 2018 at the earliest.

Table 1: Contracts to Explore Polymetallic Nodule Areas

Member State(s) Subcontractor Expiration date
India N/A 2017
China China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association 2021*
France IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) 2021*
Germany Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources 2021
Japan Deep Ocean Resources Development Co. Ltd. 2021*
South Korea N/A 2021*
Russia Yuzhmorgeologiya 2021*
Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Slovakia Inter Ocean Metal Joint Organization 2021*
Nauru Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. 2026
Tonga Tonga Offshore Mining Ltd. 2027
Belgium G-TEC Sea Mineral Resources NV 2028
United Kingdom (1 of 2) UK Seabed Resources Ltd. 2028
Kiribati Maraw Research and Exploration Ltd. 2030
Singapore Ocean Mineral Singapore Ltd. 2030
Cook Islands Cook Islands Investment Corp. 2031
United Kingdom (2 of 2) UK Seabed Resources Ltd. 2031
* These contracts were to expire in 2016 but received a five-year extension for exploration.

 

Table 2: Contracts to Explore Polymetallic Sulfide Areas

Member State(s) Subcontractor Expiration date
China China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association 2026
Russia N/A 2027
France IFREMER (French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) 2029
South Korea N/A 2029
Germany Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources 2030
India N/A 2031

 

Table 3: Contracts to Explore Carbon-Rich Crust Areas

Member State(s) Subcontractor Expiration date
China China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association 2029
Japan Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corp. 2029
Brazil CPRM (Geological Survey of Brazil) contractors 2030
Russia Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 2030

 

Source: International Seabed Authority, “Deep Seabed Minerals Contractors,” accessed Nov. 28, 2016.