Home
gpo.gov
govinfo.gov

e-CFR Navigation Aids

Browse

Simple Search

Advanced Search

 — Boolean

 — Proximity

 

Search History

Search Tips

Corrections

Latest Updates

User Info

FAQs

Agency List

Incorporation By Reference

eCFR logo

Related Resources

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

We invite you to try out our new beta eCFR site at https://ecfr.federalregister.gov. We have made big changes to make the eCFR easier to use. Be sure to leave feedback using the Feedback button on the bottom right of each page!

e-CFR data is current as of January 19, 2021

Title 15Subtitle BChapter IXSubchapter DPart 970 → Subpart B


Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 970—DEEP SEABED MINING REGULATIONS FOR EXPLORATION LICENSES


Subpart B—Applications


Contents
§970.200   General.

Contents

§970.201   Statement of financial resources.
§970.202   Statement of technological experience and capabilities.
§970.203   Exploration plan.
§970.204   Environmental and use conflict analysis.
§970.205   Vessel safety.
§970.206   Statement of ownership.
§970.207   Antitrust information.
§970.208   Fee.

Procedures

§970.209   Substantial compliance with application requirements.
§970.210   Reasonable time for full compliance.
§970.211   Consultation and cooperation with Federal agencies.
§970.212   Public notice, hearing and comment.
§970.213   Amendment to an application.

Source: 46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981, unless otherwise noted.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.200   General.

(a) Who may apply; how. Any United States citizen may apply to the Administrator for issuance or transfer of an exploration license. Applications must be submitted in the form and manner prescribed in this subpart.

(b) Place, form and copies. Applications for the issuance or transfer of exploration licenses must be submitted in writing, verified and signed by an authorized officer or other authorized representative of the applicant, in 30 copies, to the following address: Office of Ocean Minerals and Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, suite 410, Page 1 Building, 2001 Wisconsin Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20235. The Administrator may waive, in whole or in part, at his discretion, the requirement that 30 copies of an application be filed with NOAA.

(c) Use of application information. The contents of an application, as set forth below, must provide NOAA with the information necessary to make determinations required by the Act and this part pertaining to the issuance or transfer of an exploration license. Thus, each portion of the application should identify the requirement in this part to which it responds. In addition, the information will be used by NOAA in its function under the Act of consultation and cooperation with other Federal agencies or departments in relation to their programs and authorities, in order to reduce the number of separate actions required to satisfy Federal agencies' responsibilities.

(d) Pre-application consultation. To assist in the development of adequate applications and assure that applicants understand how to respond to the provisions of this subpart, NOAA will be available for pre-application consultations with potential applicants. This includes consultation on the procedures in subpart C. In appropriate circumstances, NOAA will provide written confirmation to the applicant of any oral guidance resulting from such consultations.

(e) Priority of right. (1) Priority of right for issuance of licenses to pre-enactment explorers will be established pursuant to subpart C of this part.

(2) Priority of right for issuance of licenses to new entrants will be established on the basis of the chronological order in which license applications, which are in substantial compliance with the requirements established under this subpart, pursuant to §970.209, are filed with the Administrator.

(3) Applications must be received by the Office of Ocean Minerals and Energy on behalf of the Administrator before a priority can be established.

(4) Upon (i) a determination that:

(A) An application is not in substantial compliance in accordance with §970.209 or subpart C, as applicable;

(B) An application has not been brought into substantial compliance in accordance with §970.210 or subpart C, as applicable;

(C) A license has been relinquished or surrendered in accordance with §970.903; or

(ii) A decision to:

(A) Deny certification of a license pursuant to §970.407; or

(B) Deny issuance of a license pursuant to §970.508,

and after the exhaustion of any administrative or judicial review of such determination or decision, the priority of right for issuance of a license will lapse.

(f) Request for confidential treatment of information. If an applicant wishes to have any information in his application treated as confidential, he must so indicate pursuant to 15 CFR 971.802.

[46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 5968, Feb. 9, 1982; 54 FR 547, Jan. 6, 1989]

return arrow Back to Top

Contents

return arrow Back to Top

§970.201   Statement of financial resources.

(a) General. The application must contain information sufficient to demonstrate to the Administrator the financial resources of the applicant to carry out, in accordance with this part, the exploration program set forth in the applicant's exploration plan. The information must show that the applicant is reasonably capable of committing or raising sufficient resources to cover the estimated costs of the exploration program. The information must be sufficient for the Administrator to make a determination on the applicant's financial responsibility pursuant to §970.401.

(b) Contents. In particular, the information on financial resources must include:

(1) A description of how the applicant intends to finance the exploration program;

(2) The estimated cost of the exploration program;

(3) With respect to the applicant and those entities upon which the applicant will rely to finance his exploration activities, the most recent audited financial statement (for publicly-held companies, the most recent annual report and Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission will suffice in this regard); and

(4) The credit rating and bond rating of the applicant, and such financing entities, to the extent they are relevant.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.202   Statement of technological experience and capabilities.

(a) General. The application must contain information sufficient to demonstrate to the Administrator the technological capability of the applicant to carry out, in accordance with the regulations contained in this part, the exploration program set out in the applicant's exploration plan. It must contain sufficient information for the Administrator to make a determination on the applicant's technological capability pursuant to §970.402.

(b) Contents. In particular, the information submitted pursuant to this section must demonstrate knowledge and skills which the applicant either possesses or to which he can demonstrate access. The information must include:

(1) A description of the exploration equipment to be used by the applicant in carrying out the exploration program;

(2) A description of the environmental monitoring equipment to be used by the applicant in monitoring the environmental effects of the exploration program; and

(3) The experience on which the applicant will rely in using this or similar equipment.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.203   Exploration plan.

(a) General. Each application must include an exploration plan which describes the applicant's projected exploration activities during the period to be covered by the proposed license. Generally, the exploration plan must demonstrate to a reasonable extent that the applicant's efforts, by the end of the 10-year license period, will likely lead to the ability to apply for and obtain a permit for commercial recovery. In particular, 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 license and to the development and enforcement of the terms, conditions and restrictions for a license.

(b) Contents. The exploration plan must contain the following information. In presenting this information, the plan should incorporate the applicant's proposed individual approach, including a general description of how projected participation by other entities will relate to the following elements, if appropriate. The plan must present:

(1) The activities proposed to be carried out during the period of the license;

(2) A description of the area to be explored, including its delineation according to §970.601;

(3) The intended exploration schedule which must be responsive to the diligence requirements in §970.602. Taking into account that different applicants may have different concepts and chronologies with respect to the types of activities described, the schedule should include an approximate projection for the exploration activities planned. Although the details in each schedule may vary to reflect the applicant's particular approach, it should address in some respect approximately when each of the following types of activities is projected to occur.

(i) Conducting survey cruises to determine the location and abundance of nodules as well as the sea floor configuration, ocean currents and other physical characteristics of potential commercial recovery sites;

(ii) Assaying nodules to determine their metal contents;

(iii) Designing and testing system components onshore and at sea;

(iv) Designing and testing mining systems which simulate commercial recovery;

(v) Designing and testing processing systems to prove concepts and designing and testing systems which simulate commercial processing;

(vi) Evaluating the continued feasibility of commercial scale operations based on technical, economic, legal, political and environmental considerations; and

(vii) Applying for a commercial recovery permit and, to the extent known, other permits needed to construct and operate commercial scale facilities (if application for such permits is planned prior to obtaining a commercial recovery permit);

(4) A description of the methods to be used to determine the location, abundance, and quality (i.e., assay) of nodules, and to measure physical conditions in the area which will affect nodule recovery system design and operations (e.g., seafloor topography, seafloor geotechnic properties, and currents);

(5) A general description of the developing recovery and processing technology related to the proposed license, and of any planned or ongoing testing and evaluation of such technology. To the extent possible at the time of application, this description should address such factors as nodule collection technique, seafloor sediment rejection subsystem, mineship nodule separation scheme, pumping method, anticipated equipment test areas, and details on the testing plan;

(6) An estimated schedule of expenditures, which must be responsive to the diligence requirements as discussed in §970.602;

(7) Measures to protect the environment and to monitor the effectiveness of environmental safeguards and monitoring systems for commercial recovery. These measures must take into account the provisions in §§970.506, 970.518, 970.522 and subpart G of this part; and

(8) A description of any relevant activity that the applicant has completed prior to the submission of the application.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.204   Environmental and use conflict analysis.

(a) Environmental information. To enable NOAA to implement better its responsibility under section 109(d) of the Act to develop an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the issuance of an exploration license, the application must include information for use in preparing NOAA's EIS on the environmental impacts of the activities proposed by the applicant. The applicant must present physical, chemical and biological information for the exploration area. This information should include relevant environmental information, if any, obtained during past exploration activities, but need not duplicate information obtained during NOAA's DOMES Project. Planned activities in the area, including the testing of integrated mining systems which simulate commercial recovery, also must be described. NOAA will need information with the application on location and boundaries of the proposed exploration area, and plans for delineation of features of the exploration area including baseline data or plans for acquiring them. The applicant may at his option delay submission of baseline and equipment data and system test plans. However, applicants so electing should plan to submit this latter information at least one year prior to the initial test, to allow time for the supplement to the site-specific EIS, if one is required, to be prepared by NOAA, circulated, reviewed and filed with EPA. The submission of this information with the application is strongly encouraged, however, to minimize the possibility that a supplement will be required. If such latter information is submitted subsequent to the original application such tests may not be undertaken in the absence of concurrence by NOAA (which, if applicable, will be required in a term, condition, or restriction in the license). NOAA has developed a technical guidance document which will provide assistance for the agency and the applicant, in consultation, to identify the details on information needed in each case. NOAA may refer to such information for purposes of other determinations under the Act as well. NOAA also will seek to facilitate other Federal and, as necessary, state decisions on exploration activities by functioning as lead agency for the EIS on the application and related actions by other agencies, including those pertaining to any onshore impacts which may result from the proposed exploration activities.

(b) Use conflict information. To assist the Administrator in making determinations relating to potential use conflicts between the proposed exploration and other activities in the exploration area, pursuant to §§970.503, 970.505, and 970.520, the application must include information known to the applicant with respect to such other activities.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.205   Vessel safety.

In order to provide a basis for the necessary determinations with respect to the safety of life and property at sea, pursuant to §§970.507, 970.521 and subpart H of this part, the application must contain the following information, except for those vessels under 300 gross tons which are engaged in oceanographic research if they are used in exploration.

(a) U.S. flag vessel. The application must contain a demonstration or affirmation that any United States flag vessel utilized in exploration activities will possess a current valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection (COI). To the extent that the applicant knows which United States flag vessel he will be using, the application must include a copy of the COI.

(b) Foreign flag vessel. The application must also contain information on any foreign flag vessels to be used in exploration activities, which responds to the following requirements. To the extent that the applicant knows which foreign flag vessel he will be using, the application must include evidence of the following:

(1) That any foreign flag vessel whose flag state is party to the International Convention for 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 he will be using, he must submit the applicable certification for each vessel before the cruise on which it will be used.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.206   Statement of ownership.

The application must include sufficient information to demonstrate that the applicant is a United States citizen, as required by §970.103(b)(6), and as defined in §970.101(t). In particular, the application must include:

(a) Name, address, and telephone number of the United States citizen responsible for exploration operations to whom notices and orders are to be delivered; and

(b) A description of the citizen or citizens engaging in such exploration, including:

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

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

(3) The name of registered agent or equivalent representative and places of business;

(4) Certification of essential and nonproprietary provisions in articles of incorporation, charter or articles of association; and

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

return arrow Back to Top

§970.207   Antitrust information.

(a) General. Section 103(d) of the Act specifically provides for antitrust review of applications by the Attorney General of the United States and the Federal Trade Commission.

(b) Contents. In order to provide information for this antitrust review, the application must contain the following:

(1) A copy of each agreement between any parties to any joint venture which is applying for a license, provided that said agreement relates to deep seabed hard mineral resource exploration or mining;

(2) The identity of any affiliate of any person applying for a license; and

(3) For each applicant, its affiliate, or parent or subsidiary of an affiliate which is engaged in production in, or the purchase or sale in or to, the United States of copper, nickel, cobalt or manganese minerals or any metals refined from these minerals:

(i) The annual tons and dollar value of any of these minerals and metals so purchased, sold or produced for the two preceding years;

(ii) Copies of the annual report, balance sheet and income statement for the two preceding years; and

(iii) Copies of each document submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

return arrow Back to Top

§970.208   Fee.

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

(b) Amount. In order to meet this requirement, the application must include a fee payment of $100,000, payable to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce. If costs incurred by NOAA in reviewing and processing an application are significantly less than or in excess of the original fee, the agency subsequently will determine those differences in costs and adjust the fee accordingly. If the costs are significantly less, NOAA will refund the difference. If they are significantly greater, the applicant will be required to submit the additional payment prior to issue or transfer of the license. In the case of an application for transfer of a license to an entity which has previously been found qualified for a license, the Administrator may, on the basis of pre-application consultations pursuant to §970.200(d), 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. If an applicant elects to pursue the ‘banking’ option under §970.601(d), and exercises that option by submitting two applications, only one application fee needs to be submitted with respect to each use of the ‘banking’ option.

[46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 5966, 5968, Feb. 9, 1982]

return arrow Back to Top

Procedures

return arrow Back to Top

§970.209   Substantial compliance with application requirements.

(a) Priority of right for the issuance of licenses to new entrants will be established on the basis of the chronological order in which license applications which are in substantial compliance with the requirements established under this subpart are filed with the Administrator pursuant to §970.200.

(b) In order for an application to be in substantial compliance with the requirements of this subpart, it must include information specifically identifiable with and materially responsive to each requirement contained in §§970.201 through 970.208. A determination on substantial compliance relates only to whether the application contains the required information, and does not constitute a determination on certification of the application, or on issuance or transfer of a license.

(c) The Administrator will make a determination as to whether the application is in substantial compliance. Within 30 days after receipt of an application and the opening of coordinates describing the application area, he will issue written notice to the applicant regarding such determination. The notice will identify, if applicable, in what respects the application is not in either full or substantial compliance. If the application is in substantial but not full compliance, the notice will specify the information which the applicant must submit in order to bring it into full compliance, and why the additional information is necessary.

[46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 11513, Mar. 17, 1982]

return arrow Back to Top

§970.210   Reasonable time for full compliance.

Priority of right will not be lost in case of any application filed which is in substantial but not full compliance, as specified in §970.209, if the Administrator determines that the applicant, within 60 days after issuance to the applicant by the Administrator of written notice that the application is in substantial but not full compliance, has brought the application into full compliance with the requirements of §§970.201 through 970.208.

[46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981; 47 FR 5966, Feb. 9, 1982]

return arrow Back to Top

§970.211   Consultation and cooperation with Federal agencies.

(a) Promptly after his receipt of an application and the opening of coordinates describing the application area, the Administrator will distribute a copy of the application to each other Federal agency or department which, pursuant to section 103(e) of the Act, has identified programs or activities within its statutory responsibilities which would be affected by the activities proposed in the application (i.e., the Departments of State, Transportation, Justice, Interior, Defense, Treasury and Labor, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Trade Commission, Small Business Administration and National Science Foundation). Based on its legal responsibilities and authorities, each such agency or department may, not later than 60 days after it receives a copy of the application which is in full compliance with this subpart, recommend certification of the application, issuance or transfer of the license, or denial of such certification, issuance or transfer. The advice or recommendation by the Attorney General or Federal Trade Commission on antitrust review, pursuant to §970.207, must be submitted within 90 days after their receipt of a copy of the application which is in full compliance with this subpart. NOAA will use the benefits of this process of consultation and cooperation to facilitate necessary Federal decisions on the proposed exploration activities, pursuant to the mandate of section 103(e) of the Act to reduce the number of separate actions required to satisfy Federal agencies' statutory responsibilities.

(b) In any case in which a Federal agency or department recommends a denial, it will set forth in detail the manner in which the application does not comply with any law or regulation within its area of responsibility and will indicate how the application may be amended, or how terms, conditions or restrictions might be added to the license to assure compliance with such law or regulation.

(c) A recommendation from another Federal agency or department for denying or amending an application will not affect its having been in substantial compliance with the requirements of this subpart, pursuant to §970.209, for purposes of establishing priority of right. However, pursuant to section 103(e) of the Act, NOAA will cooperate with such agencies and with the applicant with the goal of resolving the concerns raised and satisfying the statutory responsibilities of these agencies.

[46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 47 FR 11513, Mar. 17, 1982]

return arrow Back to Top

§970.212   Public notice, hearing and comment.

(a) Notice and comments. The Administrator will publish in the Federal Register, for each application for an exploration license, notice that such application has been received. Subject to 15 CFR 971.802, interested persons will be permitted to examine the materials relevant to such application. Interested persons will have at least 60 days after publication of such notice to submit written comments to the Administrator.

(b) Hearings. (1) After preparation of the draft EIS on an application pursuant to section 109(d) of the Act, the Administrator shall hold a public hearing on the application and the draft EIS in an appropriate location, and may employ such additional methods as he deems appropriate to inform interested persons about each application and to invite their comments thereon.

(2) If the Administrator determines there exists one or more specific and material factual issues which require resolution by formal processes, at least one formal hearing will be held in the District of Columbia metropolitan area in accordance with the provisions of subpart I of 15 CFR part 971. The record developed in any such formal hearing will be part of the basis of the Administrator's decisions on an application.

(c) Hearings held pursuant to this section and other procedures will be consolidated insofar as practicable with hearings held and procedures employed by other agencies.

[46 FR 45898, Sept. 15, 1981, as amended at 54 FR 547, Jan. 6, 1989]

return arrow Back to Top

§970.213   Amendment to an application.

After an application has been submitted to the Administrator, but before a determination is made on the issuance or transfer of a license, the applicant must submit an amendment to the application if required by a significant change in the circumstances represented in the original application and affecting the requirements of this subpart. Applicants should consult with NOAA to determine if changes in circumstances are sufficiently significant to require submission of an amendment. The application, as amended, would then serve as the basis for determinations by the Administrator under this part. For each amendment judged by the Administrator to be significant, he will provide a copy of such amendment to each other Federal agency and department which received a copy of the original application, and also will provide for public notice, hearing and comment on the amendment pursuant to §970.212. Such amendment, however, will not affect the priority of right established by the filing of the original application. After the issuance of or transfer of a license, any revision by the licensee will be made pursuant to §970.513.

return arrow Back to Top

Need assistance?