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S. Korea gains right to explore deep-sea mines in Indian Ocean

All Headlines 11:00 June 25, 2014

SEJONG, June 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has secured an exclusive right to explore a vast area of underwater mines in the Indian Ocean, the government said Wednesday.

An agreement was signed Tuesday between South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) that allows South Korea to explore an area of 10,000 square kilometers for hydrothermal mineral deposits in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The agreement gives South Korea exclusive exploration rights for 15 years until 2029, after which the country can demand exclusive development rights to a 2,500-square-kilometer area within the exploration zone, according to the ministry.

"With the agreement, the country secured an advantageous position to extract deep-sea minerals, a strategic source of resources in the future," the ministry said in a press release.

Hydrothermal mineral deposits are metallic minerals formed by the precipitation of solids from mineral-laden water that's heated, in most cases, by magma. Most common forms of hydrothermal deposits include manganese ores.

The latest agreement with the ISA puts the total area of underwater mines being explored or developed by South Korea at 112,000 square kilometers, including a 75,000-square-kilometer zone in the Pacific Ocean that is believed to hold up to 560 million tons of manganese ores, worth some US$370 billion.

South Korea is currently developing a deep-sea mining robot, MineRo, which can harvest mineral deposits at a depth of up to 5,000 meters.


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