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(continued) kilometers, the applicant must file a second application with respect to at least the area in excess of 150,000 square kilometers, unless the applicant justifies such excess area as part of a single application under the preceding sentence.
[46 FR 45907, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 5968, Feb. 9, 1982]
§ 970.602 Diligent exploration.
(a) Each licensee must pursue diligently the activities described in his approved exploration plan. This requirement applies to the full scope of the plan, including environmental safeguards and monitoring systems. To help assure this diligence, terms, conditions and restrictions which the Administrator issues with a license will require such periodic reasonable expenditures for exploration by the licensee as the Administrator may establish, taking into account the size of the area of the deep seabed to which the exploration plan applies and the amount of funds which is estimated by the Administrator to be required during exploration for commercial recovery of hard mineral resources to begin within the time limit established by the Administrator. However, such required expenditures will not be established at a level which would discourage exploration by persons with less costly technology than is prevalently in use.
(b) In order to fulfill the diligence requirement, the applicant first must propose to the Administrator an estimated schedule of activities and expenditures pursuant to §970.203(b) (3) and (6). The schedule must show, and the Administrator must be able to make a reasonable determination, that the applicant can complete his exploration activities within the term of the license. In this regard, there must be a reasonable relationship between the size of the exploration area and the financial and technological resources reflected in the application. Also, the exploration must clearly point toward developing the ability, by the end of the 10-year license period, to apply for and obtain a permit for commercial recovery.
(c) Ultimately, the diligence requirement will involve a retrospective determination by the Administrator, based on the licensee's reasonable conformance to the approved exploration plan. Such determination, however, will take into account the need for some degree of flexibility in an exploration plan. It also will include consideration of the needs and stage of development of each licensee, again based on the approved exploration plan. In addition, the determination will take account of legitimate periods of time when there is no or very low expenditure, and will allow for a certain degree of flexibility for changes encountered by the licensee in such factors as its resource knowledge and financial considerations.
(d) In order for the Administrator to make determinations on a licensee's adherence to the diligence requirements, the licensee must submit a report annually reflecting his conformance to the schedule of activities and expenditures contained in the license. In case of any changes requiring a revision to an approved license and exploration plan, the licensee must advise the Administrator in accordance with §970.513.
§ 970.603 Conservation of resources.
(a) With respect to the exploration phase of seabed mining, the requirement for the conservation of natural resources, encompassing due regard for the prevention of waste and the future opportunity for the commercial recovery of the unrecovered balance of the hard mineral resources in the area to which the license applies, may not be particularly relevant. Thus, since the Act requires such terms, conditions and restrictions only as needed, exploration licenses will require such provisions only as the Administrator deems necessary.
(b) NOAA views license phase mining system tests as an opportunity to examine, with industry, the conservation implications of any mining patterns used. Thus, in order to develop information needed for future decisions during commercial recovery, NOAA will include with a license a requirement for the submission of collector track and nodule production data. Only if information submitted reflects that the integrated system tests are resulting in undue waste or threatening the future opportunity for commercial recovery of the unrecovered balance of hard mineral resources will the Administrator modify the terms, conditions or restrictions pertaining to the conservation of natural resources, in order to address such problems.
(c) If the Administrator so modifies such terms, conditions and restrictions relating to conservation of resources, he will employ a balancing process in the consideration of the state of the technology being developed, the processing system utilized and the value and potential use of any waste, the environmental effects of the exploration activities, economic and resource data, and the national need for hard mineral resources.
Subpart G—Environmental Effects
Source: 46 FR 45908, Sept. 15, 1981, unless otherwise noted.
§ 970.700 General.
Congress, in authorizing the exploration for hard mineral resources under the Act, also enacted provisions relating to the protection of the marine environment from the effects of exploration activities. For example, before the Administrator may issue a license, pursuant to section 105(a)(4) of the Act he must find that the exploration proposed in an application cannot reasonably be expected to result in a significant adverse effect on the quality of the environment. Also, the Act requires in section 109(b) that each license issued by the Administrator must contain such terms, conditions and restrictions which prescribe the actions the licensee must take in the conduct of exploration activities to assure protection of the environment. Furthermore, the Act in section 105(c)(1)(B) provides for the modification by the Administrator of any term, condition or restriction if relevant data and other information indicates that modification is required to protect the quality of the environment. In addition, section 114 of the Act specifies that each license issued under the Act must require the licensee to monitor the environmental effects of the exploration activities in accordance with guidelines issued by the Administrator, and to submit such information as the Administrator finds to be necessary and appropriate to assess environmental impacts and to develop and evaluate possible methods of mitigating adverse environmental effects.
§ 970.701 Significant adverse environmental effects.
(a) Activities with no significant impact. NOAA believes that exploration activities of the type listed below are very similar or identical to activities considered in section 6(c)(3) of NOAA Directives Manual 02–10, and therefore have no potential for significant environmental impact, and will require no further environmental assessment.
(1) Gravity and magnetometric observations and measurements;
(2) Bottom and sub-bottom acoustic profiling or imaging without the use of explosives;
(3) Mineral sampling of a limited nature such as those using either core, grab or basket samplers;
(4) Water and biotic sampling, if the sampling does not adversely affect shellfish beds, marine mammals, or an endangered species, or if permitted by the National Marine Fisheries Service or another Federal agency;
(5) Meteorological observations and measurements, including the setting of instruments;
(6) Hydrographic and oceanographic observations and measurements, including the setting of instruments;
(7) Sampling by box core, small diameter core or grab sampler, to determine seabed geological or geotechnical properties;
(8) Television and still photographic observation and measurements;
(9) Shipboard mineral assaying and analysis; and
(10) Positioning systems, including bottom transponders and surface and subsurface buoys filed in Notices to Mariners.
(b) Activities with potential impact. (1) NOAA research has identified at-sea testing of recovery equipment and the operation of processing test facilities as activities which have some potential for significant environmental impacts during exploration. However, the research has revealed that only the following limited effects are expected to have potential for significant adverse environmental impact.
(2) The programmatic EIS's documents three at-sea effects of deep seabed mining which cumulatively during commercial recovery have the potential for significant effect. These three effects also occur during mining system tests that may be conducted under a license, but are expected to be insignificant. These include the following:
(i) Destruction of benthos in and near the collector track. Present information reflects that the impact from this effect during mining tests under exploration licenses will be extremely small.
(ii) Blanketing of benthic fauna and dilution of food supply away from mine site subareas. The settling of fine sediments disturbed by tests under a license of scale-model mining systems which simulate commercial recovery could adversely affect benthic fauna by blanketing, diluation of their food supply, or both. Because of the anticipated slow settling rate of the sediments, the affected area could be quite large. However, research results are insufficient to conclude that this will indeed be a problem.
(iii) Surface plume effect on fish larvae. The impact of demonstration-scale mining tests during exploration is expected to be insignificant.
(3) If processing facilities in the United States are planned to be used for testing during exploration, NOAA also will assess their impacts in the site-specific EIS developed for each license.
(c) NOAA approach. In making determinations on significant adverse environmental effects, the Administrator will draw on the above conclusions and other findings in NOAA's programmatic environmental statement and site-specific statements issued in accordance with the Act. He will issue licenses with terms, conditions and restrictions containing, as appropriate, environmental protection or mitigation requirements (pursuant to §970.518) and monitoring requirements (pursuant to §970.522). The focus of NOAA's environmental efforts will be on environmental research and on monitoring during mining tests to acquire more information on the environmental effects of deep seabed mining. If these efforts reveal that modification is required to protect the quality of the environment, NOAA then may modify terms, conditions and restrictions pursuant to §970.512.
§ 970.702 Monitoring and mitigation of environmental effects.
(a) Monitoring. If an application is determined to be otherwise acceptable, the Administrator will specify an environmental monitoring plan as part of the terms, conditions and restrictions developed for each license. The plan will be based on the monotoring plan proposed by the applicant and reviewed by NOAA for completeness, accuracy and statistical reliability. This monitoring strategy will be devised to insure that the exploration activities do not deviate significantly from the approved exploration plan and to determine if the assessment of the plan's acceptability was sound. The monitoring plan, among other things, will include monitoring environmental parameters relating to verficiation of NOAA's findings concerning potential impacts, but relating mainly to the three unresolved concerns with the potential for significant environmental effect, as identified in §970.701(b)(2). NOAA has developed a technical guidance document, which includes parameters pertaining to the upper and lower water column and operational aspects, which document will provide assistance in developing monitoring plans in consultation with applicants.
(b) Mitigation. Monitoring and continued research may develop information on future needs for mitigating environmental effects. If such needs are identified, terms, conditions and restrictions can be modified appropriately.
Subpart H—Safety of Life and Property at Sea
§ 970.800 General.
The Act contains requirements, in the context of several decisions, that relate to assuring the safety of life and property at sea. For instance, before the Administrator may issue a license, section 105(a)(5) of the Act requires that he find that the proposed exploration will not pose an inordinate threat to the safety of life and property at sea. Also, under section 112(a) of the Act the Coast Guard, in consultation with NOAA, must require in any license or permit issued under the Act, in conformity with principles of international law, that vessels documented in the United States and used in activities authorized under the license comply with conditions regarding the design, construction, alteration, repair, equipment, operation, manning and maintenance relating to vessel and crew safety and the safety of life and property at sea. In addition, under section 105(c)(1)(B) of the Act, the Administrator may modify terms, conditions and restrictions for a license if required to promote the safety of life and property at sea.
[46 FR 45909, Sept. 15, 1981]
§ 970.801 Criteria for safety of life and property at sea.
Response to the safety at sea requirements in essence will involve vessel inspection requirements. These inspection requirements may be identified by reference to present laws and regulations. The primary inspection statutes pertaining to United States flag vessels are: 46 U.S.C. 86 (Loadlines); 46 U.S.C. 395 (Inspection of seagoing barges over 100 gross tons); 46 U.S.C. 367 (Inspection of sea-going motor vessels over 300 gross tons); and 46 U.S.C. 404 (Inspection of vessels above 15 gross tons carrying freight for hire). All United States flag vessels will be required to meet existing regulatory requirements applicable to such vessels. This includes the requirement for a current valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection, as specified in §970.205. Being United States flag, these vessels will be under United States jurisdiction on the high seas and subject to domestic enforcement procedures. With respect to foreign flag vessels, the SOLAS 74 or SOLAS 60 certificate requirements or alternative IACS requirements, as specified in §970.205, apply.
[46 FR 45909, Sept. 15, 1981]
§ 970.900 Other applicable regulations.
The regulations in subparts H, I and J of 15 CFR part 971 are consolidated regulations and are applicable both to licenses under this part and to permits under 15 CFR part 971. The regulations in subparts H, I and J of part 971 govern records to be maintained and information to be submitted by licensees and permittees, public disclosure of documents received by NOAA, relinquishment and surrender of licenses and permits, amendment of regulations, competition of time, uniform hearing procedures, and enforcement under the Act.
[54 FR 548, Jan. 6, 1989]
Subparts J–W [Reserved]
Subpart X—Pre-enactment Exploration
§ 970.2401 Definitions.
(a) Engage in exploration means:
(1) To cause or authorize exploration to occur, including but not limited to a person's actions as a sponsor, principal, or purchaser of exploration services; or
(2) To conduct exploration on behalf of a person described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.
[45 FR 76662, Nov. 20, 1980, as amended at 47 FR 5966, Feb. 9, 1982]
§ 970.2402 Notice of pre-enactment exploration.
(a) General. NOAA encourages any United States citizen who engaged in exploration for deep seabed hard mineral resources before June 28, 1980, to file not later than February 1, 1981, a written notice with the Administrator, in care of: The Director, Office of Ocean Minerals and Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, Page Building 1, Suite 410, 2001 Wisconsin Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20235. Such notice shall not constitute an application for a license or permit and shall not confer or confirm any priority of right to any site.
(b) Content of pre-enactment exploration Notice. If a notice of exploration commenced prior to June 28, 1980, is filed pursuant to paragraph (a) it should be in writing and include the following:
(1) Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the United States citizens responsible for exploration operations to whom notices and orders are to be delivered;
(2) A description of the citizen or citizens engaging in such exploration including:
(i) Whether the citizen is a natural person, partnership, corporation, joint venture, or other form of association;
(ii) The state of incorporation of state in which the partnership or other business entity is registered;
(iii) The name of registered agent and places of business;
(iv) Certification of essential and non-proprietary provisions in articles of incorporation, charter, or articles of association; and
(v) Membership of the association, partnership, or joint venture, including information about the participation of partners and joint venturers, and/or ownership of stock.
(3) A general description of the exploration activities conducted prior to June 28, 1980, including:
(i) The approximate date that the citizen, or predecessor in interest, commenced exploration activities;
(ii) A general estimate of expenditures made on the exploration program prior to June 28, 1980;
(iii) A statement of whether the citizen intends to file an application for an exploration license pursuant to section 101(b)(1)(A) of the Act after NOAA issues regulations implementing section 103(a) of the Act; and
(iv) A statement of whether the citizen intends to continue to engage in exploration as allowed by section 101(b) of the Act, pending a final determination on his application for an exploration license.
(c) Exclusion of location information. The information submitted in the notice of pre-enactment exploration required by this section shall not include the location of past or future exploration or prospective mine sites.
[45 FR 76662, Nov. 20, 1980]
Subpart Y—Pre-license Exploration
Source: 45 FR 76662, Nov. 20, 1980, unless otherwise noted.
§ 970.2501 Notice of pre-license exploration voyages.
(a) General. Any United States citizen who schedules an exploration voyage to begin after November 20, 1980 shall file written notice with the Administrator which sets out:
(1) The name, address and telephone number of the citizen;
(2) The anticipated date of commencement of the voyage and its planned duration;
(3) The exploration activities to be carried out on the voyage, including a general description of the equipment and methods to be used, and an estimate of the anticipated extent of seabed disturbance and effluent discharge; and
(4) If the U.S. citizen has not filed a notice of pre-enactment exploration in accordance with §970.2402, the information specified in §970.2402(b).
(b) When and where to file Notice of future exploration—(1) When. (i) Except as allowed in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, the notice required by paragraph (a) of this section must be filed not later than 45 days prior to the date on which the exploration voyage is scheduled to begin.
(ii) With respect to filing of the information referred to in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, the filing dates specified in paragraph (b) of this section shall prevail over the date specified in §970.2402(a).
(2) Exception. If an exploration voyage is scheduled to begin before January 5, 1981, the notice required by paragraph (a) of this section must be filed on or before December 22, 1980.
(3) Where. The notice required by paragraph (a) of this section must be filed in writing with the Administrator, at the address specified in §970.2402(a) of this part.
§ 970.2502 Post voyage report.
Within 30 days of the conclusion of each exploration voyage, the United States citizen engaging in the voyage shall submit to NOAA a report containing any environmental data or information obtained during that voyage.
§ 970.2503 Suspension of exploration activities.
(a) The Administrator may issue an emergency order, either in writing or orally with written confirmation, requiring the immediate suspension of exploration activities or any particular exploration activity when, in his judgment, immediate suspension of such activity or activities is necessary to prevent a significant adverse effect on the environment. Upon receipt of notice of the emergency order, the United States citizen engaged in the exploration shall immediately cease the activity that is the subject of the emergency order. During any suspension NOAA will consult with the citizen engaged in the activity suspended concerning appropriate measures to remove the cause of suspension. A suspension may be rescinded at any time by written notice from the Administrator upon presentation of satisfactory evidence by the citizen that the activity will no longer threaten a significant adverse effect on the environment.
§ 970.2601 Additional information.
Any United States citizen filing notice under §970.2402 or §970.2501 of this part shall provide such additional information as the Administrator may require as necessary and appropriate to implement section 101 of the Act.
[45 FR 76662, Nov. 20, 1980]