The largest-ever known undersea gold deposit has been confirmed beneath the East China Sea after three years of exploring, planning, drilling and excavating. The discovery was made earlier this month more than a mile below the sea at a location near Sanshan Island in the Shandong province.
Largest Undersea Gold Deposit
It is estimated that the newly confirmed undersea gold deposit contains 470 to 500 metric tonnes of gold. At current prices, that would exceed $16.3 billion alone. A bit further beneath the surface at 2 km below sea level, a total of 1,500 to 1,600 tonnes of gold are believed to be deposited.
Zhang Junjin, who oversaw the entire project, offered a newfound appreciation of the necessity for better technology to effectively make good on such deep undersea gold deposits. "The discovery of a gold deposit lying 2,000 meters undersea provides the need for new drilling technology for future gold mining,” Zhang said.
The discovery beneath the East China Sea proved worth the time, but an enormous effort was expended in order to do so: 67 underwater drilling platforms were erected, more than a thousand geologists and other workers were employed in the three-year project, and approximately 120 km of drilling was conducted.
The drilling took place not far from Laizhou City, which is known for holding the richest gold deposits in China. Some estimates place its reserves at 2,000 tonnes. It's no surprise that domestic gold mining in China has accelerated consistently since the early 1990s.
More to Come?
In May earlier this year, China and India agreed to a cooperative effort to mine gold in the Indian Ocean. (The arrangement makes sense, given that China and India are the top two countries in gold consumption globally.) It is known that there is an incredible amount of gold contained in the ocean, but it is mostly in small flakes that can't be extracted in any efficient manner. Because the East China Sea discovery is a solid undersea gold deposit rather than dispersed gold dust or flakes, it offers unique mining prospects.
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