The United Nations has approved Russia’s request to explore one of the world's largest untapped copper and gold deposits on the Atlantic Ocean bed, with reserves five to 10 times higher than that of onshore fields, Kommersant business daily said on Friday.
"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.
The source said Moscow had sped up its efforts in exploring oceanic deposits after China had filed an official request to the UN last year to explore a ridge in the Indian Ocean.
Investment in the exploration of the area located near the equator may amount to $20-43 million in next five years, the Natural Resources Ministry's Darya Vasilevskaya said.
"Six promising fields were found in the Russian section," Sergei Andreyev, deputy head of the World Ocean's geology and mineral resources department in Russia's Oceanology Research Institute, told Kommersant.
The average copper content in ore in onshore deposits amounted to about one percent compared to 2.5-10 percent in offshore deposits, he said.
Russia does not have the necessary equipment for exploration and would have to attract a foreign partner, most likely Canada's Nautilus Minerals, in which Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov holds a 20 percent stake, a Natural Resources Ministry source said.
Russia is also preparing a request to explore cobalt and iron and manganese deposits in the bed of the Pacific Ocean, which the UN will consider next year.