The deep seabed mining arena involves a collection of government, intergovernment, industry, scientific, academic, civil society and other interests. Since the start of the 21st century several factors have converged to propel deep seabed mining from a concept towards becoming a practical reality.
As of January 2020, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has issued permits and entered into 15-year contracts (several of which have been extended for an additional 5 years) for exploration for polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the deep seabed with 29 contractors.
Seventeen of these contracts are for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone and Central Indian Ocean Basin. There are seven contracts for exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the South West Indian Ridge, Central