Cobalt Conundrum: India’s Deep-Sea Mining Push Challenges China’s Dominance, Sparks Tensions With Sri Lanka – Analysis – by Girish Linganna (Eurasia Review – June 21, 2024)


India is rushing to get permission to explore a cobalt-rich underwater mountain located in the middle of the Indian Ocean. However, there are other countries interested in the same area. Sri Lanka is also looking to mine precious minerals there, adding to the competition.

Cobalt is a critical mineral used in rechargeable batteries for smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles. It also plays a key role in making alloys for jet engines, gas turbines and cutting tools. Additionally, cobalt is used in medical implants and as a catalyst in the chemical industry.

The urgent application to explore the cobalt-rich underwater mountain is driven by concerns about China’s presence in the Indian Ocean. China already controls much of the world’s cobalt supply, which worries officials and analysts who shared their thoughts with Al-Jazeera. This has prompted India to react quickly.

In January, India asked the International Seabed Authority (ISA), headquartered in Jamaica, for permission to explore the cobalt-rich Afanasy Nikitin Seamount (AN Seamount). The ISA is an autonomous world body that was set up under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

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