Still enmeshed in an international dispute lodged before the World Trade Organisation, Japan and China yet again face off in a race on who gets first dibs to explore and mine the precious rare earths elements off the Pacific Ocean.
Japan and Jamaica on Monday have formally launched a pilot project to test the commercial viability of the island's bauxite waste, more known as red mud, for possible rare earth elements.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA), a body of the international organisation United Nations, revealed it has received new applications for seabed exploration licences from the two Asian countries.
"The two new applications have been filed in respect of areas located in the West Pacific Ocean and are for exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts," the ISA said in its Web site.
China filed its application a few days before Japan did on July 27.
However, ISA did not provide any hint if the mining rights will be awarded and whether one or both will be given such.
"In accordance with the Regulations, the members of the Legal and Technical Commission will be notified of the above applications and consideration of these applications will be placed on the agenda of the Commission at its next meeting in 2013," the ISA said in its Web site.
Japan, over a year ago, announced it discovered billions of tonnes of rare earths on the Pacific seabed over.
China, meanwhile, for 15 years has been long exploring the West Pacific Ocean seabed, according to a report by the China Daily.
"Although no countries can realise commercial mining in the deep seabed exploration for mineral resources, gaining the exploration rights for the seabed will provide potential strategic mineral reserves for the country," COMRA deputy director Li Bo told the paper.
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