admin's picture

HONOLULU, Hawaii (March 29, 1998 - PIDP/CPIS/Hulsen)---The Pacific Ocean floor is worth "billions, possibly hundred of billions of dollars" says Dr. John Wiltshire, Associate Director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii.

The Japanese government has spent over $US 100 million in recent years investigating the sea bottom's mineral wealth, he told a meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists in Honolulu Saturday, and has documented its findings, pinpointing the location of valuable deposits of oil and gas, manganese nodules, gold, silver, nickel and scores of other valuable materials.

Even underwater deposits of easily accessible sand and gravel, essential to modern building construction, also have been mapped, he added.

Eventually, Wiltshire sees floating mining equipment on ships the size of aircraft carriers tapping the ocean bottom's wealth, even processing minerals aboard ship, and making some Pacific Island countries economically wealthy. When an area is mined out, he says, the ship will simply move on to another location within the nation's 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

It may take up to another 50 years before the necessary equipment, including underwater robotics, is fully available, says Wiltshire, but some undersea mining already has begun, notably in Papua New Guinea.

Manganese nodules are available to rake off sea bottom off Rarotonga, he notes, but the extremely expensive equipment necessary to do so remains to be developed.

Rate this article: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Add new comment