The largest-ever gold deposit found in China has been discovered 2,000 meters under the East China Sea near Sanshan Island. It is the first undersea gold mine found in China.
The massive deposit holding more than 470 tons of gold was found in Laizhou, east China's Shandong province, announced the Shandong Provincial No. 3 Institute of Geological and Mineral Survey.
With a current market price of $1,090.75 per ounce, that values the deposit at more than $16.4 billion.
Ding Zhengjiang, the vice director of the Shandong Provincial No. 3 Institute, said the gold deposit is part of a crablike ore belt that lies deep at the sea bottom, according to media reports.
Owned by Laizhou Ruihai Mining Ltd, the marine ground investigation took three years and involved moew than 120 kilometers of drilling, with 67 sea drilling platforms and nearly 1,000 geological workers.
"It's very difficult to locate and set up the drilling platforms at sea," Ding said. In 2012, the first platform took 24 hours to be constructed. They have now gotten that down to only eight hours, thanks to more advanced offshore construction technology.
"Besides, drilling holes into underground rocks that are more than 1,000 meters deep is a big challenge," said Zhang Junjin, the operation's project manager. "Normally in China, gold mine prospection is conducted within 800 meters underground. The discovery of a gold deposit lying 2,000 meters undersea provides new drilling technology for future gold mining."
More than 2,000 tons of gold deposits have been found in Laizhou, which has the largest gold reserves in the country. Gold mining initiatives worldwide are increasingly turning to the sea for new resources, and according to The Guardian, the number of companies looking to mine in international waters has tripled in the recent years.