India is working to mine rare earth elements from seabed to counter China's monopoly
India has joined the race to explore and develop deep-sea mining for rare earth elements — further complicating the geopolitics surrounding untapped sources of valuable minerals beneath the oceans. The country is building a rare-earth mineral processing plant in the east coast state of Orissa and it is spending around US$135 million to buy a new exploration ship and to retool another for sophisticated deep-water exploration off its coast. The Central Indian Basin, for example, is rich in nickel, copper, cobalt and potentially rare-earth minerals, which are highly lucrative and used widely in manufacturing electronics such as mobile phone batteries. They are found in potato-shaped nodules on the deep-sea floor. "These nodules offer a good solution to meeting the nation's demand for metals," C. R. Deepak, head of the deep-sea mining division at the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, told SciDev.Net.