The Union Cabinet on Monday approved the extension of the contract between the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMN) for a further period of five years.
According to a government statement, the earlier contract was due to expire on March 24, 2017.
"By extending the contract, India's exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue and would open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value in area beyond national jurisdiction, " the statement said.
"Further, it would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international players are also active. "
PMN also known as manganese nodules are potato - shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans.
Besides, manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium, of which nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.
India had signed a 15 year contract for exploration of PMN in the Central Indian Ocean Basin with the ISA on March 25, 2002.