The government on Monday extended its 15 - year contract with International Seabed Authority (ISA) to continue exploring Polymetallic nodules, potato - shaped mineral rich nodules found on the sea floor, in the deep sea.
The contract between Ministry of Earth Sciences and ISA was extended for five years (2017 - 22).
The earlier contract is expiring on March 24, 2017.
The government said that by extending the contract India's exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules will continue and open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
"It would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international players are also active, " the government said.
The Polymetallic nodules contain manganese, iron, nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, and titanium.
Of these, nickel - used in batteries, cobalt in medical use and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.
India in March 2002 signed a 15 - year contract with ISA for exploration of Polymetallic nodules in the allotted area of 150, 000 sq km in the Central Indian Ocean Basin.
India is presently active in an area of 75, 000 sq km, located about 2, 000 km away from her southern tip for the exploration.
About 380 million metric tonnes of Polymetallic nodules mass is estimated in the area allocated to India by ISA.