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e-CFR data is current as of January 14, 2021

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter DPart 971Subpart B → Subject Group

Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
Subpart B—Applications


§971.201   Statement of financial resources.

(a) General. The application must contain information sufficient to demonstrate to the Administrator pursuant to §971.301 that, upon issuance or transfer of the permit, the applicant will have access to the financial resources to carry out, in accordance with this part, the commercial recovery program set forth in the applicant's commercial recovery plan.

(b) Specific. In particular, the information on financial resources is expected to be general in nature but must include the likely sources and timing of funds to meet the applicant's scheduled expenditures in the recovery plan. These sources may include cash flow, reserves, and outside funding.

§971.202   Statement of technological experience and capabilities.

(a) General. The application must contain information sufficient to demonstrate to the Administrator pursuant to §971.301 that, upon issuance or transfer of the permit, the applicant will have the technological capability to carry out, in accordance with the regulations contained in this part, the commercial recovery program set out in the applicant's commercial recovery plan.

(b) Specific. In particular, the information submitted pursuant to this section must describe the equipment, knowledge, and skills the applicant possesses, or to which it can demonstrate access [see §971.200(e)]. The information must include:

(1) A description of the technology or the equipment and methods to be used by the applicant in carrying out each step in the mining process, including nodule collection, retrieval, transfer to ship, environmental monitoring, transport to processing facilities, nodule processing, waste disposal and compliance with applicable water quality standards. The description must include:

(i) An analysis of the performance of experimental systems, sub-systems, or analogous machinery;

(ii) The rationale for extrapolating from test results to commercial mining. The more test data offered with the application the less analysis will be expected; and

(iii) Anticipated system reliability within the context of anticipated production time lost through equipment failure.

(2) A functional description of the types of technical persons on whom the applicant will rely to operate its equipment.

§971.203   Commercial recovery plan.

(a) General. The application must include a proposed commercial recovery plan which describes the applicant's projected commercial recovery activities, in a general way, for the twenty year period to be covered by the proposed permit. Although preliminary and subject to change, the plan must be more detailed for that portion of the permit term leading up to the initiation of commercial recovery. The plan must include sufficient information for the Administrator, pursuant to this part, to make the necessary determinations pertaining to the certification and issuance or transfer of a permit and to the development and enforcement of the TCRs for a permit.

(b) Specific. The plan must include:

(1) A description of the activities proposed to be carried out during the period of the permit;

(2) The intended schedule of commercial recovery (see “Diligent commercial recovery,” §971.503);

(3) Environmental safeguards and monitoring systems, which must take into account requirements under subpart F of this part, including best available technologies (BAT) (§971.604) and monitoring (§971.603);

(4) Details of the area or areas proposed for commercial recovery, which meet requirements for diligence (§971.503) and conservation of resources pursuant to subpart E (especially §971.502);

(5) A resource assessment of the area or areas proposed for commercial recovery which meets the requirements for resource assessment and logical mining unit (§971.501);

(6) A description of the methods and technology to be used for commercial recovery and processing (see §971.202(b)(1)); and

(7) The methods to be used for disposal of wastes from recovery and processing, including the areas for disposal and identification of any toxic substances in wastes.

§971.204   Environmental and use conflict analysis.

(a) Environmental information submission. The application must be supported by sufficient marine environmental information for the Administrator to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed mining activities, and to determine the appropriate permit TCRs based on environmental characteristics of the requested minesite. The Administrator may require the submission of additional data, in the event he determines that the basis for a suitable EIS, or a determination of appropriate TCRs, is not available.

(b)(1) In preparing the EIS, the Administrator will attempt to characterize the environment in such a way as to provide a basis for judging the potential for significant adverse effects or irreparable harm triggered by commercial mining (see subpart F). In compiling these data, the Administrator will utilize existing information including the relevant license EIS, additional exploration data acquired by the applicant, and other data in the public domain.

(2) The EIS must present adequate physical, chemical, and biological information for the permit area. If the permit area lies within the area of NOAA's Deep Ocean Mining Environmental Study (DOMES), the parameters listed in NOAA's Technical Guidance Document pertaining to the upper and lower water column should be included. Specifically, these parameters include:

(i) Upper water column—


Endangered species

Salinity, temperature, density


(ii) Lower water column and seafloor—


Suspended particulate matter dispersion

Sediment characteristics (mineralogy, particle size, shape and density, and water content)



(3) For a permit area outside the DOMES area, the applicant is encouraged to consult with NOAA at the earliest opportunity in order to determine the specific parameters to be measured based on the location and specific environmental characteristics of the permit area. The Administrator, in consultation with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and with the assistance of other appropriate Federal agencies, may determine that a programmatic EIS is required for any new area.

(c) The application must include a monitoring plan for test mining and at-sea commercial recovery activities which meets the objectives and requirements of §971.603.

(d) Use conflict analysis. The application must include information known to the applicant on other uses of the proposed mining area to support the Administrator's determination regarding potential use conflicts between commercial mining activities and those activities of other nations or of other U.S. citizens.

(e) Onshore information. Because of NEPA requirements, the Administrator must include in the EIS on the proposed permit the complete spectrum of activities resulting from the issuance of a permit. Therefore, onshore information including the location and operation of nodule processing facilities must be submitted with the application in accordance with the details in §971.606.

§971.205   Vessel safety and documentation.

In order to provide a basis for the necessary determinations with respect to the safety of life and property at sea, pursuant to §971.407, §971.422 and Subpart G of this part, the application must contain the following information for vessels used in commercial recovery, except for those vessels under 300 gross tons which are engaged in oceanographic research:

(a) U.S. flag vessel. All mining ships and at least one of the transport ships used by each permittee must be documented under the laws of the United States. To the extent that the applicant knows which United States flag vessels it will use, it must include with its application copies of the vessels' current valid Coast Guard Certificates of Inspection.

(b) Foreign flag vessels. To the extent that the applicant knows which foreign flag vessel(s) it will be using for other purposes, the application must include evidence of the following:

(1) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is party to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS 74) possesses current valid SOLAS 74 certificates;

(2) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is not party to SOLAS 74 but is party to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960 (SOLAS 60) possesses current valid SOLAS 60 certificates; and

(3) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is not a party to either SOLAS 74 or SOLAS 60 meets all applicable structural and safety requirements contained in the published rules of a member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS).

(c) Supplemental certificates. If the applicant does not know at the time of submitting an application which vessels it will be using, it must submit the applicable certification for each vessel before the cruise on which it will be used.

§971.206   Statement of ownership.

(a) General. The application must include sufficient information to demonstrate that the applicant is a United States citizen.

(b) Specific. In particular, the application must include:

(1) Name, address, and telephone number of the United States citizen responsible for commercial recovery operations;

(2) A description of the citizen or citizens engaging in commercial recovery, including:

(i) Whether the citizen is a natural person, partnership, corporation, joint venture, or other form of association;

(ii) The state of incorporation or state in which the partnership or other business entity is registered;

(iii) The name and place of business of the registered agent or equivalent representative to whom notices and orders are to be delivered;

(iv) Copies of all essential and nonproprietary provisions in articles of incorporation, charter or articles of association; and

(v) The name of each member of the association, partnership, or joint venture, including information about the participation and/or ownership of stock of each partner or joint venturer.

§971.207   Antitrust information.

In order to support the antitrust review referenced in §971.211, the application must contain information sufficient, in the applicant's view and based on preapplication consultations pursuant to §971.200(g), to identify the applicant and describe any significant existing market share it has with respect to the mining or marketing of the metals proposed to be recovered under the permit.

§971.208   Fee.

(a) General. Section 104 of the Act provides that no application for the issuance or transfer of a permit will be certified unless the applicant pays to NOAA an administrative fee which reflects the reasonable administrative costs incurred in reviewing and processing the application.

(b) Amount. A fee payment of $100,000, payable to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, must accompany each application. If the administrative costs of reviewing and processing the application are significantly less than or in excess of $100,000, the Administrator, after determining the amount of the under- or over-charge, as applicable, will refund the difference or require the applicant to pay the additional amount before issuance or transfer of the permit. In the case of an application for transfer of a permit to, or for a significant change to a permit held by, an entity which has previously been found qualified for a permit, the Administrator may reduce the fee in advance by an appropriate amount which reflects costs avoided by reliance on previous findings made in relation to the proposed transferee.

§971.209   Processing outside the United States.

(a) Except as provided in this section and §971.408, the processing of hard minerals recovered pursuant to a permit shall be conducted within the U.S., provided that the President or his designee does not determine that this restriction contravenes the overriding national interests of the United States.

(b) If foreign processing is proposed, the applicant shall submit a justification demonstrating the basis for a finding pursuant to §971.408(a)(1). The justification shall include an analysis of each factor which the applicant considers essential to its conclusion that processing at a site within the U.S. is not economically viable.

(c) If the Administrator determines that the justification provided by the applicant is insufficient, or if the Administrator receives during the public comment or hearing period what the Administrator determines to be a serious alternative U.S. processing site proposal, the Administrator may require the applicant to supply, within a specified reasonable time, additional information relevant to the §971.408(a)(1) finding.

(d) The applicant must include in its application satisfactory assurances that such resources after processing, to the extent of the permittee's ownership therein, will be returned to the United States for domestic use if the Administrator determines pursuant to §971.408 that the national interest necessitates such return. Assurances must include proposed arrangements with the host country.

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