China has completed the construction of the hull of the world's first deep ocean mining vessel, according to a report by The Times.
The 227-meter boat, upon completion, will be capable of working at depths of 2.5 km, carrying 45,000 tons of ore and staying at sea for more than five years at a time.
The Times said officials at Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding confirmed that the boat was on schedule to be completed and handed over to Canada-based Nautilus Minerals by 2018 to be used for mining operations off Papua New Guinea.
The company would not provide further details, the Times said, citing a news report in the local Fujian Evening News that the ship would be equipped with mining equipment, underwater robots, deck cranes and helicopter pads.
China has abundant mineral resources in the ocean, requiring deep sea technologies to excavate. The Times cited a report from the Ministry of Land and Resources that there are 88 billion tons of rare earth materials, a billion tons of cobalt, and three trillion tons of polymetallic nodules under the sea floor.