China searches precious metals in Indian Ocean

China searches precious metals in Indian Ocean

11:32 AM, 5th January 2015
China searches precious metals in Indian Ocean
Nuclear-powered submarine of the Chinese navy’s North Sea Fleet preparing to dive into the sea.

BEIJING, CHINA: A Chinese submersible vessel has conducted its first deep dive in the Indian Ocean in search of rare metals. The project involves collecting samples of hydrothermal fluid and sulfide, a kind of seabed deposit containing copper, zinc and precious metals such as gold and silver.

The project, which involves exploring the Indian Ocean for 120 days, reflects China’s hunger for resources, and its long-term development plans, said sources. The vessel will also obtain samples of rocks, sediment and water from selected spots in the India Ocean. Different metals become sulfides after chemical reactions and come to rest in the seabed in ‘chimney vents,’ said Xinhua news agency official.

The mission’s chief scientist, Tao Chunhui, said diving in the submersible enables researchers to see active hydrothermal vent and polymetallic sulfide in seabed and study the environment in the sites from which samples are drawn. The information is important for China’s future research in the polymetallic sulfide exploration contract area, said Tao.

The first dive last Friday was part of a plan for 20 more planned for the submersible called Jiaolong after a mythical dragon. It will research polymetallic sulfides, biological diversity, hydrothermal microbes and genetic resources in a 120-day expedition in the Indian Ocean.

Jiaolong earlier conducted a 52-day scientific expedition in the northwest Pacific Ocean until last August. It collected 116 biological samples, 22 rock samples, 100 kg of cobalt-rich crust and 24 kg of polymetallic crust samples, as well as 1,232 liters of seawater from the Pacific Ocean. Chinese experts also tested a remotely operated underwater vehicle, Longzhu.

China said it was conducting the diving operation within its own licensed exploration area. It entered a contract with the International Seabed Authority and China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) in 2011 to cover 10,000 sq km of sea surface for research.

Research mission’s chief commander, Yu Hongjun, said the vessel will also be used to help pilot trainees to learn skills of submersible operation in active hydrothermal vent and collect samples. The submersible has been carried by a research ship, Xiangyanghong 09.

 

© TimesOfIndia News 

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