Germany has applied for a licence to mine raw materials in the Indian Ocean in the race to excavate valuable minerals from under the sea bed.
The licence costs $500 000 dollars and would secure Germany exclusive access for at least 15 years to about 10 000 square kilometres southeast of Madagascar, the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources said.
Researchers with the institute travelled for a third time since October on board the Sonne, which means sun in German, to explore the area for metal ores found in hydrothermal fields on deep-sea beds. Sulphides there contain large concentrations of metals that include gold, silver and large numbers of elements used to produce computers, cellphones, televisions and wind turbines.
Sea bed mining has yet to be started anywhere in the world, but a handful of countries and private companies are preparing to undertake such mining.
Germany already holds exploration licences in the Pacific Ocean.
The projects are aimed at acquiring politically secure access to raw materials and encouraging German technological development, said Christian Reichert, the head of the institute's division on sea bed exploration.
The Jamaica-based International Seabed Authority is responsible for issuing licences for commercial exploration of the ocean floor outside national boundaries.
Other countries that have been granted licences are China, Russia, France, South Korea and India, as well as a consortium made up of Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Slovakia. Companies from Japan, Nauru, Tonga, Kiribati, Britain and Belgium have also been granted permits. – Sapa