China May Start Working on Deep-Sea Mining Technology

By @ibtimesau on

Out to conquer every probable location of natural resource in the world, China,  is mulling to start working on developing its deep-sea mining technology by as early as 2030, state news agency Xinhua News reported. 

China one of the countries authorized to look for polymetallic sulphide deposits under water.

"With the improvement in deep-sea technology, metal resources under the ocean can be explored and mined within 20 years," Sun Zhihui, the former head of the country's State Oceanic Administration, told Xinhua News.

In 2011, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) included China among the first batch of countries allowed to explore for polymetallic sulphide deposits or polymetallic nodules in the southwest portion of the Indian Ridge, a tectonic plate boundary on the bed of the Indian Ocean, Sun said.

Polymetallic nodules are rock concretions, about the size of a potato, on the seabed. It holds precious metals such as iron, manganese, nickel, cobalt and aluminum.

China has also applied to explore for cobalt in a new area in the Pacific Ocean, Sun said, noting the country's underwater mining search operations has covered more than 80,000 square kilometers of the Pacific and Indian oceans' floors.

China obtained in August 2011 the ISA approval to explore a 10,000 square kilometer polymetallic sulphide ore deposit in an international seabed region in the Indian Ocean.

But commercially mining those polymetallic sulphide deposits may quite take a time longer.

"When we can carry out commercial mining depends on technological development, financial support and the price of key minerals on the market," Xinhua News quoted Xiang Jianhai, researcher at the Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.

Moreover, the country needed to develop or procure more advanced equipment that would cater to the deep-sea mining environment.

Such mining equipment, said Xiang, must be able to withstand high underwater pressures and marine corrosion.

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