Commercial sea-bed mining of metal rich nodules, which was thought to be around the corner in the 1970s, is now expected to begin around the turn of the century. Western consortia had virtually stopped all sea-bed mining development activities after 1981. But then France, India, Japan and Russia commenced comprehensive exploration and development projects for exploration of manganese nodule resources. China and Korea have also carried out preliminary evaluations. Japan and India were preparing to commence test mining in the mid-1990s.
It is predicted that not being a signatory to the Law of the Sea Convention might rule out a sea-bed miner of metalliferous ores from certain receivers. Restrictions on the export of high technology for sea-bed mining, and patents protecting the owners of patent rights on parts of deep sea-bed technology, are potential commercial limitations on exploitation of sea-bed resources.