The "Mining Code" refers to the whole of the comprehensive set of rules, regulations and procedures issued by ISA to regulate prospecting, exploration and exploitation of marine minerals in the international seabed Area (defined as the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction).
All rules, regulations and procedures are issued within the general legal framework established by UNCLOS, in particular its Part XI on the Area, and its 1994 Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS.
To date, ISA has issued Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area (adopted on 13 July 2000) which were later updated and adopted on 25 July 2013; the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Sulphides in the Area (adopted on 7 May 2010) and the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Cobalt-Rich Crusts (adopted on 27 July 2012).
These regulations include the forms necessary to apply for exploration rights as well as standard terms of exploration contracts.
The complete set of these regulations will form part of the Mining Code together with recommendations by ISA's Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) for the guidance of contractors, including those on the assessment of the environmental impacts of exploration for polymetallic nodules.