China set to make breakthrough in deep-ocean mining of rare, hotly-demanded metals
Before mankind’s first commercial deep-sea mining endeavor begins in 2019, China’s Xiang Yang Hong 06 survey vessel is currently examining the seabed of the East Pacific for precious metals in a three-month-long voyage.
A leading expert in China’s seabed mining quest says of the voyage that the country is sailing toward a program that will see the extraction of 30 tons of minerals per hour from 1,700 meters beneath the sea by 2020, minerals that are much-needed in the country.
In August, the Xiang Yang Hong 06 vessel left Qingdao in East China’s Shandong Province for the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone in the East Pacific, south of the Hawaiian Islands, to search for polymetallic nodules. Aboard the survey vessel are experts from China Minmetals Corp (CMC), in the company’s first voyage to search for mining opportunities for deep-sea rare metals.
CMC is one of the only 27 contractors for deep-sea mining within the Pacific Ocean under the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an intergovernmental body, headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica, that governs all mineral-related activities on international seabed areas that are beyond the limits of national jurisdictions.
Calling from the sea
“It is not a matter of whether China needs to conduct voyages in deep-sea mining, it is a matter of should we begin such voyages now, or five years later, or 10 years later,” Li Maolin, deputy general manager at the Changsha Research Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Co in Central China’s Hunan Province, told the Global Times on Friday.
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