New areas of the ocean bed have been licensed for exploration by the UN's International Seabed Authority.
Together with the new licenses, a vast 1.2 million square kilometres of seabed has now been licensed in total, under 26 separate licences. Deep sea mining has moved further up the agenda in recent years as the search to provide valuable minerals continues and oil and gas technology has made it more feasible.
Three plans of work were approved for exploration for polymetallic nodules to be carried out by United Kingdom Seabed Resources, Ocean Mineral Singapore and the Cook Islands Investment Corporation.
Two applications concerning exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, from Brazil's Companhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Minerais, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation were approved. The remaining two applications to receive the green light were from the Government of India and the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources of Germany, for exploration for polymetallic sulphides.