China to expand seabed mining in Indian Ocean

Last Updated: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 18:06

Beijing: China on Saturday announced plans to
expand its seabed mineral explorations in the Indian Ocean
after an international authority approved its bid to mine for
polymetallic sulphide ore, much to the surprise of India.

Beijing has already got approval to explore in a 10,000
sq km seabed area in southwest Indian Ocean for the ore and
now it plans to invest more to expand the "depth and scope of
oceanic research".
Following the approval, China`s Ocean Mineral Resources
Research and Development Association is set to sign a 15-year
exploration contract with the International Seabed Authority
(ISA) later this year granting pre-emptive rights for it to
develop the ore deposit in future, state run Xinhua reported.

"We will expand the depths and scope of oceanic research
and improve our understanding of the ocean, with special
focuses on the polar regions and deep sea environments," Liu
Cigui, head of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), told a
meeting on oceanic technology here.

The move has already raised concerns in India with
Directorate of Naval Intelligence (DNI) informing the Indian
government that the contract would provide an excuse for China
to operate its warships besides compiling data on the vast
mineral resources in India`s backyard.

Chinese released a guideline on the oceanic science and
technology development between 2011 and 2015, vowing to invest
more to boost the country`s maritime economy.
Liu said more efforts will be made to boost innovation
and strive for breakthroughs in key technology in order to
stimulate the development of emerging oceanic industries but
did not mention the amount money China will be investing.

The announcement followed China`s bid for exploring the
international seabed region of southwest Indian Ocean for
polymetallic sulphide deposit was approved by ISA, last month
much to the surprise of India.

The guideline was jointly released at the meeting by the
SOA, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of
Education and the National Natural Science Foundation, state
run Xinhua reported.

China also has obtained exclusive rights to prospect in a
75,000-square-km polymetallic nodule ore deposit in the east
Pacific Ocean in 2001.

Apparently in preparation for its ambitious oceanic
research projects, China has stepped up its experiments with
first manned deep sea submersible which touched about 6000
meters in the Pacific Ocean last month with three people on
board.

According to China`s State Oceanic Administration (SOA),
the submersible named Jiaolong is designed to reach a maximum
depth of 7,000 meters expected some time next year.

It completed 17 dives in the South China Sea between May
31 and July 18 last year, reaching 3,759 meters during its
deepest dive.

China is the fifth country to send a man 3,500 meters
below sea level, following the United States, France, Russia
and Japan.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 18:06

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