China could take a page out of Nautilus Minerals' playbook and begin exploring for undersea polymetallic sulphide deposits.
"With the improvement in deep-sea technology, metal resources under the ocean can be explored and mined within 20 years," Sun Zhihui, the former head of the country's State Oceanic Administration, told Xinhua News.
Xinhua reports China was among the first group of countries allowed by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) to explore for sulphides on the bed of the Indian Ocean, including iron, manganese, nickel, cobalt and aluminum.
In 2011 Nautilus Minerals Inc (TSX:NUS) was granted the first deep sea “hard rock” mining lease for its Solwara 1 project in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea, where it is aiming to produce gold, copper and silver.
Nautilus also holds approximately 600,000 square kilometers of highly prospective exploration acreage in the western Pacific, in PNG, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga, as well as in international waters in the eastern Pacific.
In November last year, MINING.com reported doubts had surfaced about the viability of undersea mining. A Canadian-led study, published in the journal Geology, states that “the possibility of mining sea floor [deposits] has stirred debate about the sustainable use of this new resource and whether commercial development is worth the risk.”