February 15, 2019
On February 15, 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) revised the Plan for the Development of Marine Energy and Mineral Resources (hereinafter referred to as the “development plan”).
The development plan stipulates a specific future plan for development of marine energy and mineral resources. METI is responsible for the formulation of the development plan under the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy for this purpose.
METI continues to formulate the development plan in order to specify the goals stipulated in the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy approved by the Cabinet.
In response to the formulation of the Third Basic Plan on Ocean Policy in May 2018, the government of Japan decided to revise the development plan to address the current situations in related fields. Accordingly, field-based expert councils and the Natural Resources and Fuel Committee of METI’s Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy held discussions on the draft of the revised development plan and formulated the draft of the revision. METI called for public comments on the draft of the revision in December 2018 and revised the development plan on February 15, 2019, in light of the results of the public comments.
The revised development plan specifically defines: approaches to research and development from the first step to goal achievement by type of mineral for marine energy and mineral resources and technical development and other necessary related elements; and it also defines the future direction of plans for developing such resources for the coming five years or so. Under the plan, METI will continue to make efforts toward achieving these goals.
- Regarding the pore-filling sand-layer type, METI will conduct: development of technologies for long-term production, onshore production tests, research and test drilling in the sea areas surrounding Japan, surveys on marine environments and other efforts.
- Regarding the shallow type, METI will assess the results of the review of the literature on current potential recovery technologies, undertake research and development of necessary recovery and production technologies and undertake surveys on states of the seabed, surveys on marine environments and other efforts.
Oil and natural gas:
- Regarding geophysical survey, METI will renew the three-dimensional seismic vessel “Shigen” and set a new goal of "approximately 50,000 km2 during the next decade".
- Regarding exploratory drilling (test boring), METI will hold dis cussions on approaches to increasing opportunities for exploratory drilling in desirable area on the result of the geophysical survey.
Efforts related to deep sea minerals:
- Regarding seafloor polymetallic sulphides, METI will engage in: ascertaining the approximate amount of resources at the 50.00-million-ton level; development of a comprehensive system for excavatingand ore lifting; establishment of a process for ore dressing and smelting that is applicable to a variety of mineral deposits; improvement and sophistication of applicability of a method for assessing environmental impact; and other efforts.
- Regarding cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, in parallel with continuing to conduct evaluation of mineral resources, METI will conduct: technological development of mining, taking advantage of the results of the research for seafloor polymetallic sulphides; design of a pilot plant for ore dressing and smelting; baseline surveys on environments; and other efforts.
- Regarding manganese nodules, METI will conduct surveys and other research observing the rules of the International Seabed Authority. Regarding rare earth mud, METI will advance efforts as part of the Innovative Technologies for Research for Deep-sea Resources, a strategic program for innovation creation, under the framework for promoting collaboration among ministries and agencies.
Division in Charge
Policy Planning Division, Natural Resources and Fuel Department, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy