The Foundry Informatics Centre recently said that India, despite having rich metal and mineral resource, lagged behind other countries, such as China, Australia, South Africa and Brazil, mainly because of poor performance by the mining industry. The Centre also said that the industry was in sorry state due to lack of comprehensive regulatory policies, poor infrastructure and insufficient skilled manpower.

A couple of months after the Centre expressed concern over the mining industry’s performance, geologists have discovered millions of tonnes of precious metals and minerals in Indian waters.

Geological Survey of India (GSI), one of the premier organisations of earth science survey and research in the world, has claimed that it found a seabed “treasure trove” near Chennai and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in southern part of India.

In a statement issued on July 17, the GSI said that geologists confirmed the presence of marine resources off Mangaluru, Chennai, Mannar Basin, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep coasts after conducting research for three years. The organisation urged the Indian government to allow geologists to explore the area extensively, saying that the huge amount of lime mud, phosphate-rich and calcareous sediments, hydrocarbons, metalliferous deposits and micro-nodules (stored in the region) could help the South Asian nation reduce its dependency on foreign countries for minerals. The GSI believes that deeper and extensive exploration could lead to a larger treasure trove.

Superintendent Geologist at GSI Ashish Nath told the press that they issued the statement only after colleting data for the last three years. Since 2014, geologists have explored nearly 181,025sqkm area and created high-resolution seabed morphological data according to which the volume of lime mud within the Exclusive Economic Zone of India could be more than 10,000 million tonnes. Nath said that they found phosphate sediment off Karwar, Mangaluru and Chennai coasts, gas hydrate in the channel-levee system of Mannar Basin off the Tamil Nadu coast, cobalt-bearing ferro-manganese crust from the Andaman Sea and micro-manganese nodules around Lakshadweep Sea.

According to the senior GSI official, they used three state-of-the-art research vessels – ‘Samudra Ratnakar’, ‘Samudra Kaustabh’ and ‘Samudra Saudikama’ – to carry out the ‘High Resolution Seabed Mapping and Natural Resource Evaluation’. “The main objectives were to identify potential zones of favourable mineralisation and evaluate marine mineral resources,” stressed Nath.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]