Jiaolong, the manned deep-sea submersible, is helping China tap a treasure of iron-manganese deposits that were first discovered in the South China Sea on Wednesday.
Tang Jialing, an oceanaut on the submersible, told Xinhua News Agency that although the exact area of the deposits was still unknown, he was sure that it was large.
“Since one of the samples was broken by the sub’s robotic arm, a round core inside could be identified as volcanic lava. The materials covering the core are iron and manganese oxides, which need tens of thousands of years to form,” he said.
Li Xinzheng, a biologist who was on board the Jiaolong, told Science and Technology Daily that besides the excitement he felt when the large-scale deposits were discovered, he was also struck by the size of the deep-sea world and its expansive population of strange species, most of which he had never seen before.
“I will never forget my experience in the deep sea,” Li said.
Jiaolong completed four deep-sea dives from June 17 to 20, collecting rare animal specimens and mineral samples.
Jin added, the ship will then sail to two mining areas in the Pacific Ocean for a geological survey, collecting biological and mineral samples and preparing for future sea mining projects.
The mission marks the start of a five-year trial period for the Jiaolong before it starts regular operations, Xinhua reported.
Since 2001, China signed several contracts with the International Seabed Authority for mineral prospecting and exploration in the western Pacific Ocean and the Southwest India Ridge.
Jin told China Daily in a previous interview that the refined metals from the deposits will help the country meet the increasing demand for mineral resources during its rapid economic development.
Full article: Submersible taps mineral deposits in S. China sea (Asia News Network)