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Brazil’s Geological Service has signed an agreement with the International Seabed Authority, or ISA, to explore the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean beyond its continental shelf in a probe of mineral deposits, the government said.

Under an agreement with the U.N. agency that regulates commercial activities in international waters, Brazil will be able to explore iron, manganese and cobalt reserves some 1,500 kilometers (950 miles) off Rio de Janeiro state’s coast.

The mineral deposits are located in an underwater hill known as Alto Rio Grande and it is estimated they are located about 4,000 meters (13,115 feet) below the ocean’s bottom.

In its request to the ISA, Brazil’s Geological Service said the tectonic plates where the mineral deposits are supposed to be resulted from detachments in the continental platform.

Research on the deposits’ potential began five years ago and Brazil has already invested $60 million in the studies.

Before exploiting the submarine wealth, the Geological Service said it was committed to spending an additional $11 million on new research into the environmental impact of the potential underwater mining.

Once risks are assessed, the areas where commercial exploitation is considered economically viable will be selected.

With this agreement, Brazil becomes the first country in the Southern Hemisphere authorized by the ISA to undertake these kinds of operations in international waters, joining a small group that includes Russia, Norway, France, China, Germany, Japan and South Korea, among others, the Geological Service said.

The 1994 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea allows the exploitation of resources in international waters only under an ISA concession. EFE

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