Keppel subsidiary Ocean Mineral Singapore (OMS) has secured a contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to explore the Pacific Ocean floor for seabed polymetallic nodules that can potentially be mined for metals.

Under the 15-year contract, OMS will explore polymetallic nodules that contain copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, as well as rare earth minerals at a site within the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone of the Pacific Ocean.

On 21 July 2014, OMS secured approval for the exploration licence for polymetallic nodules awarded by the ISA.

OMS director Ong Ye Kung said: "We are encouraged by reaching another milestone in our journey to find a more sustainable way of supporting the world’s need for metal resources.

"In addition, we look forward to working closely with the ISA and other stakeholders to develop an environmentally responsible and commercially viable solution."

"We are encouraged by reaching another milestone in our journey to find a more sustainable way of supporting the world’s need for metal resources."

According to OMS, the nodules have the potential to supply key metals to address growing global demand in various applications such as construction, aerospace and alternative energy.

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OMS plans to conduct environmental studies and surveys for deposits of polymetallic nodules within the approved area of 58,000km² in cooperation with the Keppel-NUS Corporate Laboratory.

OMS is claimed to be the first company in Singapore to be awarded an exploration contract for polymetallic nodules.

The company is majority owned by Keppel, with UK Seabed Resources, and Singapore-based private investment company Lion City Capital Partners as minority shareholders.

Image: Manganese nodules taken from the bottom of the Pacific. Photo: courtesy of Marcin Zych.