The China Ocean Mineral Resources R&D Association (COMRA) signed a cobalt-rich crust mining contract with the International Seabed Authority (Pacific) on Tuesday, after more than a year of legal procedures.

The crust is located in the seamounts area of the northwestern Pacific, covering some 3,000 square km, the contract said.

According to the document, China is entitled to survey the area and conduct experiments in mining and smelting within the next 15 years.

China is obliged to hand over two thirds of the area within 10 years and to provide training to technicians from other developing nations.

The COMRA submitted its application to the ISA for exploring the area in July 2012.

This is the third seabed mining area that China has secured. The other two are a poly-metallic nodule mining area in the northeastern Pacific in 2001 and poly-metallic sulfide deposits area in the southwestern Indian Ocean in 2011.