OFFSHORE AREAS RULES, 2024 (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     21st June 2024        
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Context: The Union government has introduced the Offshore Areas (Existence of Mineral Resources) Rules, 2024 to  start offshore mineral auctions.

Offshore Areas (Existence of Mineral Resources) Rules, 2024

  • Introduced by: Central government under the authority of the Offshore Areas Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002.
  • About: Mandates rigorous exploration standards for accurate assessment and sustainable development of offshore mineral resources.
  • Exploration Requirements: Minimum general exploration (G2) required for mining leases; general exploration (G4) necessary for composite licences.
  • Features of Offshore Areas (Existence of Mineral Resources) Rules, 2024
  • Coverage: Includes various minerals such as silica sand, rare earth elements, and hydrothermal minerals, with tailored exploration approaches.
  • Identified Mineral Blocks: Ministry of Mines has identified 10 offshore mineral blocks for potential auction, undergoing inter-ministerial consultations for necessary approvals.
  • Specific Exploration Norms: Sets norms for different deposits: construction-grade silica sand, non-construction-grade calcareous sand, calcareous mud, phosphatic sediments, deep sea minerals, rare earth elements, hydrothermal minerals, and nodules.
  • Stages of Exploration: Defines exploration in four stages: reconnaissance survey (G4), preliminary exploration (G3), general exploration (G2), and detailed exploration (G1), reflecting increasing geological assurance.
  • Feasibility Studies: Categorizes feasibility studies into geological study (F3), pre-feasibility study (F2), and feasibility study (F1).
  • Significance 

oRepresents a significant step towards responsible and efficient utilization of offshore mineral resources.

oEnsures thorough assessment of each mineral deposit based on its unique characteristics and potential environmental impact.

Offshore Mining

  • About: This refers to the retrieval of mineral deposits from the deep seabed, typically below depths of 200 meters.
  • Importance: India's offshore mineral reserves encompass essential resources such as gold, diamonds, copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and rare earth elements crucial for development.
  • India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spans over two million square kilometers and hosts substantial recoverable resources.
  • Offshore mineral extraction aims to boost mineral availability domestically and lessen reliance on imports.

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