08/06/2011, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Moscow to explore some of the largest copper and gold deposits in the world

The United Nations grants Russia the right to prospect parts of the Atlantic seabed. For the Kremlin, it is a major geopolitical coup.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – The United Nations has approved Russia’s request to explore one of the world's largest untapped copper and gold deposits in the world. Located on the Atlantic Ocean bed, it has reserves five to ten times higher than that of onshore fields, Kommersant reported. For the Russian business paper, this represents as much a geopolitical as an economic coup for Moscow.

"The development of the world ocean's bed is a large geopolitical project to protect Russian interests as a leading raw materials state," a Foreign Ministry source told the paper, adding that Moscow had sped up its efforts in exploring oceanic deposits after China had filed an official request to the United Nations last year to explore a ridge in the Indian Ocean.

Investment in the exploration of the area located near the equator may be around US$ 20-43 million over next five years, the Natural Resources Ministry's Darya Vasilevskaya said.

"Six promising fields were found in the Russian section," said Sergei Andreyev, deputy head of the World Ocean's geology and mineral resources department in Russia's Oceanology Research Institute.

On average, the copper content in ore mined in onshore deposits is about one per cent compared to 2.5-10 per cent in offshore deposits, he said.

Since Russia does not have the necessary equipment for exploration, it would have to bring in a foreign partner, most likely Canada's Nautilus Minerals, in which Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov holds a 20 per cent stake.

Russia is also preparing an application to explore cobalt, iron and manganese deposits in the bed of the Pacific Ocean, a request the United Nations will consider next year. (N.A.)
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