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The South China Sea’s Resource Wars

Joshua Frank

Its Ocean Drilling Ship, a deep sea mining (DSM) vessel [is] the size of a battle cruiser set to be operational by 2024. Instead of weaponry, however, the ship is equipped with advanced excavation equipment capable of drilling at depths of 32,000 feet. On land, the Chinese already hold a virtual monopoly on metals considered vital to “green” energy development, including cobalt, copper, and lithium. Currently, the Chinese control 60% of the world’s supply of such “green” metals and are now eyeing the abundant resources that exist beneath the ocean’s floor as well. By some estimates, that seabed may contain 1,000 times more rare earth elements than those below dry ground.