Rs 4000 crore allocation for Deep Ocean Mission to give NIOT a boost

The Rs 4,000 crore Deep Sea Mission, which was announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2021 has come at an opportune time with Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) gearing-up to conduct demonstrative trials of its mining technology in shallow waters next month.

NIOT director GA Ramadass said that the Deep Sea Mission comprises of six different components. “NIOT will be playing a major role in development of technologies for deep sea mining, underwater vehicles and underwater robotics. Besides, technological innovations for exploration and conservation of deep sea biodiversity, energy and freshwater from the ocean and setting-up of advanced marine station for Ocean Biology will be our focus areas.”


NIOT’s Deep-sea Technologies and Ocean Mining Group has already developed the crawler, which weighs 12 tonnes and a soil tester that will determine the characteristics of soil on the seabed where the crawler is deployed. “Mining Crawler locomotion trials in shallow waters with depth of 500 meters are planned in March-April depending on ship and funds availability. Pumping System trials are planned in 2022. An integrated mining technology demonstration in the deep sea at the depth of 6 km is planned in 2024,” said GA Ramadass.

The idea is to have an integrated mining system where a crawler-based mining machine collects, crushes and pumps nodules to the mother ship using a positive displacement pump through a flexible riser system. It is expected that multiple mining machines will cover the mining field during large scale commercial mining operations.

India would be among very few nations in the world having capability to send a man underwater in a craft. As of now, US, Russia, France, Japan and China have conducted manned deep-sea expeditions.