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Marine minerals extracted from coastal and ocean sources will be key to India’s future economy, Minister of State Earth Sciences Dr Jitendra Singh has said. He added that metals like nickel and cobalt play an important role in promoting renewable energy technologies needed to fight the climate change challenges.

The minister inaugurated the new building facilities at Bhubaneswar’s Institute of Minerals & Materials Technology and said that the institute is an R&D Lab of national importance in minerals and materials technology to address the problems of the industry for their sustainable development.

“India has emerged as one of the frontline nations in marine scientific research and is now actively engaged in exploring the resourceful ocean bed for meeting the country’s future energy and metal demands. The Deep Ocean Mission initiated by the Modi government heralds yet another horizon to various resources to enrich the blue economy,” the minister said.

He noted that steps are being taken for close coordination and collaboration between IIMT and NIOT (National Institute of Ocean Technology), Chennai for accelerated progress in developing India’s blue economy and harnessing its ocean resources adding that efforts are on for the development of suitable technologies for effective mining of some of the deep-sea mineral resources and exploitation of gas hydrates resources.

The Ministry had, earlier this year, launched India’s First Manned Ocean Mission Samudrayan at Chennai to carry out deep ocean exploration of the non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides and cobalt crusts, located at a depth between 1000 and 5500 meters.

This 25-tonne vessel, named after Lord Vishnu’s fish avatar and roughly the size of a minivan, will study the environment through acrylic viewports and using crablike robotic arms to scoop up samples. The Matsya 6000 under the Samudrayan initiative is capable of carrying three human beings in a titanium alloy personnel sphere in a 2.1-metre diameter enclosed space with an endurance of 12 hours and an additional 96 hours in case of an emergency situation.

The niche technology facilitates carrying out deep ocean exploration of non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides and cobalt crusts, the NIOT said.

Jitendra Singh said that over the last seven years, the main thrust of R&D at CSIR-IMMT has been to empower Indian industries to meet the challenges of globalization by providing advanced and zero waste process know-how and consultancy services for commercial exploitation of natural resources through the public-private-partnership (PPP) approach.

Meanwhile, the main aim of the Common Research and Technology Development Hub established at the CSIR-IMMT is to provide technological solutions, mentor entrepreneurs and startups, and facilitate their incubation. Its primary objective is to nurture and promote innovations in MSMEs and provide them with R&D or knowledge-based support in the area of new materials and chemical processes.

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India today

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