• China plans to dig deeper underground to tap into more resources.

China plans to dig deeper underground to tap into more resources. (Photo : Reuters)

China has unveiled an ambitious plan to dig deeper into the Earth's crusts and tap into the resources locked inside.

The new plan was outlined in a report released by the Ministry of Land and Resources entitled "Developmental Planning of Territorial Resources for Scientific Innovation During the 13th Five-Year Plan," the Global Times reported.

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Under the proposal, China will conduct a five-year survey of urban underground spaces to determine the extent of resources found under Chinese cities and how they can be better utilized. The project is also tasked with determining how to effectively use the underground space itself.

According to Dong Shuwen, former deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, there is a potentially large amount of resources can be found underneath China's territory. He notes that just 2 percent of the untapped resources located between 3 and 10 kilometers below the crust could last for more than 5,000 years. Dong made the remark during the National Land and Resources Scientific Innovation Conference on Sept. 5.

Dong added that China is lagging behind other countries in terms of underground space utilization. While countries like Singapore and Japan has been able to utilize space up to 200 meters below the surface, the country has only been able to use 50 meters or less on average.

However, Dong is optimistic that the situation would change. According to the report, it is estimated that, by 2020, China wants to greatly expand its underground exploration capabilities to include technologies that will allow it to conduct mining activities at 2 kilometers deep and do mineral resources prospecting at 3 km.

It also wants to go even deeper and develop advanced technologies for exploring resources at a depth of 5 kilometers, as well as improving current oil and gas exploration methods for depths between 6/5 and 10 kilometers, The Indian Express reported.

The reports also said that the project hopes to tap other underground energy resources like terrestrial heat.