The 25-ton deep sea mining robot, MineRo. (Maritime Ministry)
South Korea has successfully tested its first-ever deep sea mining robot, which may lead to the start of independent underwater mining from as early as 2015, the government said Thursday.
The 25-ton robot, MineRo, was tested last week for its maneuverability at a depth of 1,300 meters in waters off the country’s southeastern coast, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
“With the successful testing of the MineRo, the country now possesses the key technology for mining deep sea manganese ores,” it said in a press release.
South Korea has exclusive rights to develop a 75,000 square-meter zone, known as the Clarion-Clipperton zone, located some 2,000 kilometers southeast of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
The area is believed to hold up to 560 million tons of manganese ore deposits, worth some $370 billion, according to the ministry.
“The ministry, together with the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology, plans to complete developing related technologies for commercial mining of deep sea manganese ores, including technologies needed to refine and extract strategic metals from manganese ores, by 2015,” it said. (Yonhap News)