Japan to use deep-sea probes to search for minerals

Aug 06, 2009
This photo released in 2007 by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology's (JAMSTEC) Integrated Ocean drilling Program, shows a deep-sea drilling vessel off the coast of Japan's Wakayama prefecture. Japan plans to deploy unmanned probes to scour the sea-floor around the resource-poor island nation for mineral deposits.

Japan plans to deploy unmanned probes to scour the sea-floor around the resource-poor island nation for mineral deposits, a government-backed scientific organisation said Thursday.

Two underwater robots tethered to a ship would explore the for rare metals, said an official of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), which is set to start the project in fiscal year 2010.

Researchers hope to discover minerals such as manganese, cobalt, lead and zinc used in Japanese products from cars to the batteries in IT gadgets.

JAMSTEC, a government-linked agency that specialises in environmental research and marine technology, plans to invest four billion yen (42.55 million dollars) in the probes, the official said.

The move comes as Japan, the world's second-biggest economy, tries to break away from its dependence on foreign imports of raw materials and energy.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is trying to secure stable supplies of rare metals amid growing demand from emerging economies that has sparked worries over a supply crunch.

"It is extremely important to ensure stable supplies of rare metals from the standpoint of maintaining and strengthening the competitiveness of Japan's manufacturing industry," the ministry said in a strategy published last week.

It is important for Japan to "strengthen the technology it holds for securing natural resources," it added.

Experts say deep-sea mining, especially near mineral-belching hydrothermal vents on the , will become feasible despite huge technical challenges and expenses, as certain minerals become more scarce worldwide.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Japan mulls high-tech economic stimulus

Mar 17, 2009

Japan may invest two billion dollars or more in new information and communication systems under an economic stimulus package with the aim of creating 400,000 jobs by 2011, an official said Tuesday.

Technology opens promise, perils of ocean mining

Apr 01, 2009

(AP) -- There's gold in that thar sea floor. Silver, copper, zinc and lead, too. The problem is, it's a mile or two underwater and encased in massive mineral deposits that layer a dark, mysterious world.

Japan plans WTO complaint on SKorea battery rule

Jun 22, 2009

Japan is set to complain to the WTO this week over a South Korean plan to tighten safety regulations on lithium-ion batteries, accusing Seoul of protectionism, a report has said.

Recommended for you

Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

21 hours ago

A strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Sunday evening, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

Dec 19, 2014

The 2004 tsunami led to greater global cooperation and improved techniques for detecting waves that could reach faraway shores, even though scientists still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.

Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans

Dec 19, 2014

Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
3 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2009
CLEVER!

This is indeed clever.

We know very little about geochemistry at the bottom of the ocean.

One of my former students, Dr. Bin Li, used noble gas isotopes to elucidate the formation of the Kuroko massive sulfide deposits. These economically important minerals likely formed in contact with sea water.

With kind regards.
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.