Scientists at the Shandong Provincial No. 3 Institute of Geological and Mineral Survey have located a mega-sized gold deposit, 2000 meters under the north coastal water near Sanshan Island off Laizhou city in the Shandong province, with at least 470 tons of reserves. The new-found deposit, the largest undersea gold mine found in China, is currently valued at over $16.4 billion and is estimated to hold at least 1,500 tons of gold.
According to Ding Zhengjiang, the deputy director of the Shandong Provincial No. 3 Institute, the gold deposit is part of a crablike or belt that lies deep at the sea bottom. The marine ground investigation took three years, and involved over 120 kilometers of drilling, with 67 sea drilling platforms and about 1,000 drillers and geologists.
However, experts now face the daunting challenge of accessing the mine, which is currently out of reach for excavators. Despite being the world’s leading producer of gold, China lacks the technological ability to reach potential operations 1000 meters below the Earth’s surface.
In 2012, the first drilling platform at sea took 24 hours to be constructed, and now it took 8 hours with more advanced offshore construction technology.
“It’s no easier than the docking of a space ship. Drilling in the ocean will mark the fact that China’s geological exploration has extended from land to sea, and that it is a strong power in geological terms… Besides, drilling holes into underground rocks that are more than 1000 meters deep is a big challenge. Normally in China, gold mine prospection is conducted within 800 meters underground. The discovery of a gold deposit lying 2000 meters undersea provides new drilling technology for future gold mining,” said the project manager Zhang Junjin.
More than 2,000 tons of gold deposits have been found in Lanzhou, which has the largest gold reserves in the country.
In 2014, China produced 452 tons of gold. The China Gold Association recently disclosed that China produced 357 tons of gold during January-September 2015, an increase of 1.48% from a year earlier. By the end of September, China’s gold reserve has reached 1,700 tons, up from the 1,660 tons in June.
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