ISA session set to open tomorrow

Published: Sunday | May 24, 2009

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Secretary-General Nii Allotey Odunton. - File

The 14th annual session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) opens tomorrow (Monday) at its headquarters at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

Approximately 150 members will attend the session which is scheduled to close June 5. Nii Odunton, the ISA's secretary general, says drafting an explorative code for prospective contractors to mine polymetallic sulphide is one of the main issues for the organisation's 36-member council.

"We are hoping at this session that council will finish its consideration of that code so it can be sent forward to the assembly for discussion and adoption," Odunton said. "When the assembly adopts it, we can then issue licenses to interested parties."

Source for minerals

The area that contains the polymetallic sulphide is located in the western Pacific Ocean. Once companies are contracted by the ISA, they are allowed to mine the polymetallic sulphide which is a source for minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, silver and gold. Contractors are required to pay the ISA royalties when they are granted a mining license.

The ISA has eight current contractors (seven companies and the government of India) who hold exploration licenses to mine polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, which is found in the north Pacific Ocean.


Those nodules contain cobalt, copper and nickel which produce metal when refined.

Preserving the region's environment and bio-diversity will also be discussed, said Odunton, a Ghanaian who was elected secretary general in June last year.

Established in 1994 by the United Nations as an independent treaty organisation, the ISA has 155 members which are signatories to the Law of the Sea Convention. It administers exploration rights to 50 per cent of the earth's surface.