October 25th, 2011 | Global Times Earth exploration launched to fill resource gap
A deep Earth exploration program, which could be the largest in the country’s history, may lead to a breakthrough in China’s natural disaster forecasting and search for new mineral resources, a senior geologist said.
The SinoProbe Program, also known as “deep exploration in China,” aims to enable geologists to predict potential geological disasters and mitigate damage by further understanding the structure and evolution of the continental lithosphere beneath China. It is also meant to assist in mineral resource exploration, said Dong Shuwen, a deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and principal investigator of the SinoProbe, according to the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post.
“The program is driven by the need for natural resources,” Dong said earlier to the Oriental Outlook. “China has encountered challenges looking for resources buried deep as the resources in the Earth’s initial layers, with an average depth of 400 to 500 meters, have largely been exploited.”
According to the Ministry of Land and Resources, China is facing a widening gap between supply and demand with resources amounting to only half of the world’s average per capita and the country is the world’s second largest mineral consumer.
The program with a budget of 3 billion yuan($470.96 million), funded by the Ministry of Finance and managed by the Ministry of Land and Resources, was approved by the State Council in late 2008. It has entered a stage of full-scale implementation recently, and will be completed in 2012.
Chen Xuanhua, deputy director of the Management Office of SinoProbe, told the Global Times the program has been carried out smoothly. “We have already made a lot of achievements with the technologies becoming more mature,” Chen said. “And the initial experiment was proven to be a success.”
“For years, China has lagged behind Western countries, such as the US and Canada, in deep earth exploration,” said Chen.
Russia secured its status as the country with the largest amount of mineral resource reserves and the world’s largest resource exporter by implementing a number of exploration programs in 2005, according to the report.
By Hao Di