(a) In general
No later than 90 days after October 19, 1996, the Secretary shall designate 3 centers for marine mineral research and related activities.
One center shall concentrate primarily on research in the continental shelf regions of the United States, 1 center shall concentrate primarily on research in deep seabed and near-shore environments of islands, and 1 center shall concentrate primarily on research in arctic and cold water regions.
In designating a center under this section, the Secretary shall give priority to a university that—
(1) administers a federally funded center for marine minerals research;
(2) matriculates students for advanced degrees in marine geological sciences, nonenergy natural resources, and related fields of science and engineering;
(3) is a United States university with established programs and facilities that primarily focus on marine mineral resources;
(4) has engaged in collaboration and cooperation with industry, governmental agencies, and other universities in the field of marine mineral resources;
(5) has demonstrated significant engineering, development, and design experience in two or more of the following areas;
(A) seabed exploration systems;
(B) marine mining systems; and
(C) marine mineral processing systems; and
(6) has been designated by the Secretary as a State Mining and Mineral Resources Research Institute.
(d) Center activities
A center shall—
(1) provide technical assistance to the Secretary concerning marine mineral resources;
(2) advise the Secretary on pertinent international activities in marine mineral resources development;
(3) engage in research, training, and education transfer associated with the characterization and utilization of marine mineral resources; and
(4) promote the efficient identification, assessment, exploration, and management of marine mineral resources in an environmentally sound manner.
(e) Allocation of funds
In distributing funds to the centers designated under subsection (a), the Secretary shall, to the extent practicable, allocate an equal amount to each center.
(1) Administrative expenses
Not more than 5 percent of the amount made available to carry out this section during a fiscal year may be used by the Secretary for expenses associated with administration of the program authorized by this section.
(2) Construction costs
None of the funds made available under this section may be used for the construction of a new building or the acquisition, expansion, remodeling, or alteration of an existing building (including site grading and improvement and architect fees).