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Deep Sea Mining

Polymetallic nodules have economically valuable metals such as Copper, Cobalt, Nickel and Manganese in them and are viewed as potential resources to take care of the depleting land resources and increasing demand of these metals. There are 380 million tons of nodules in the retained Indian Pioneer area. However development of deep subsea technology for mining these resources is a major challenge considering the ultra high pressure environment, very soft soils and other factors. NIOT has been working on a mining concept where a crawler based mining machine collects, crushes and pumps nodules to the mother ship using a positive displacement pump through a flexible riser system. It is expected that multiple mining machines will cover the mining field during large scale commercial mining operations. With this perspective, the integrated mining system is under development for demonstration of deep-sea mining of polymetallic nodules.

Integrated Mining System - Critical Design & Development Modules

Remotely Operable In-situ Soil Tester (ROSIS)

view of nodules from 5462 m depth

Universal sub-sea latching system

Sub-sea transformer

Portable In-situ Soil Tester (POIST)

Schematic of Deep-sea Mining Systems Pioneer area allotted to India by ISA

The deep ocean has abundant mineral resources like polymetallic nodules, cobalt rich manganese crust and hydrothermal deposits. Utilising this mineral wealth for the benefit of mankind will be the focus of ocean mining activities in this century. Deep-sea Technologies and Ocean Mining Group of NIOT was been actively involved in development of technology for Polymetallic nodule mining from 6000m water depth. The Polymetallic nodules containing copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese are viewed as potential resources to meet the increasing demand for these metals world wide. India has a status of Pioneer Investor and has been allotted a site in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the International Sea Bed Authority (ISA) for exploration and technology development for polymetallic nodule mining.

Deep-sea Technologies & Ocean Mining Group aims at developing a highly reliable Deep-sea mining system which will develop technologies for harnessing resources from ocean to meet the country’s growing mineral requirements and increase the country’s self sufficiency, in the near future.

Manganese nodules dredged from the CIOB
Gas Hydrates

This group was created to cater to the sustained development of technology towards harnessing the enormous potential offered by the ocean towards the energy sectors and also to the industries related to offshore activities with particular reference to gas hydrates.



Gas hydrates are crystalline combination of a natural gas and water (known technically as a clathrate) looks remarkably like ice but burns if it meets a match lit. Energy in the gas hydrates amount to twice as much as all fossil fuels combined. Gas hydrate estimated to contribute a very large amount of methane, a potential clear hydrocarbon fuel resource. Our physical, chemical, geological and geotechnical knowledge is too limited to predict about possible exploration and unwanted environmental consequences of gas hydrate production. Hence, "gas hydrates" will most certainly be subject to increased research in the years to come.

Carbon Distribution

In India occurrence of gas hydrates is proved during JOIDES drilling program of NGHP under Ministry of Petroleum during 2006. During the drilling and geophysical logging thick gas hydrates occurrence were proved and recovered from Krishna – Godavari basin at a depth 950 m and 40 bsf. During drilling gas hydrates are recovered in association with intercalated volcanic ash beds in Andaman Sea.


The Deep Sea Technologies group is involved in developing manned and unmanned underwater vehicles along with allied technologies such as homing and docking system, sensor fusion, etc for the exploration and exploitation of deep ocean mineral resources such as poly-metallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydrothermal sulphides etc and other oceanographic, polar and industrial applications.

Remotely Operated Submersible - ROSUB6000

Development of deep-water work class ROV by NIOT in collaboration with Experimental Design Bureau of Oceanological Engineering (EDBOE), Moscow was initiated by Polymetallic Nodule Management (PMN) Board of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Govt. of India. The Submersible is equipped with multifunctional tools and sensors for offshore applications such as deep ocean mineral exploration, seabed imaging, gas hydrate exploration, pipeline routing, submarine cabling, well head detections, sampling etc.