The Polymetallic Nodule programme is one of the major R&D efforts in India towards the development and use of Ocean Science & Technology for the exploration of the marine non-living resources for the socioeconomic benefit of the society. This multidisciplinary programme is being executed by multi-institutional participation. on 26th January, 1981 the Indian Oceanographic Vessel "Gaveshni" collected the first sample of polymetallic nodule from Indian Ocean. Continued Indian efforts succeeded in identifying a prospective site with polymetallic nodules in Indian Ocean and recognition of India as a pioneer investor in 1982. Subsequently, India became the first Registered Pioneer Investor in August, 1987 along with Japan, France and the Soviet Union (now Russia). Today India is the only country with the mine site allocated in Central Indian Ocean Basin while all others are in Pacific Ocean. In this programme, survey & exploration, mining technology, extractive metallurgy and environmental impact analysis are the four areas where the Indian efforts are directed. An overview of the progress and the future plan in these areas is briefly presented.
The major component of the polymetallic nodule programme is survey & exploration. India has made considerable progress in resource identification, assessment and associated technology and manpower development including training of persons nominated by PREPCOM in the areas of mining geology and exploration geophysics. Initial efforts were directed towards fulfilling the requirements under the UN Convention for registration as a pioneer investor and for this purpose, identification of two areas of equal commercial value, one of which was the reserved area and the other the pioneer area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin. The surveys were carried out onboard Indian Research Vessels Gaveshani and Sagar Kanya supported by charter vessels Skandi Surveyor, Famella - GA Reay, Nand Rachit, and Sidorenko.