China Widens Antarctic Presence

The race for the continent's seabed continues
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2007 4:49 PM CST
In this undated file photo supplied by Raytheon Antarctic Services, the ice highway stretches as far as the eye can see. Many nations are building in Antarctica to support claims to its seabed. (AP Photo/Raytheon...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – China will build its third Antarctic research facility, expanding its presence on the continent as the international race for rights to the seabed heats up. As melting ice caps open the possibility of mining the seabed, countries including Chile, Argentina, and the UK are scrambling to claim portions of the continent, the BBC reports, even though mining is currently prohibited.

Two hundred construction workers have been dispatched to build an observatory, radar station, and sewage system; the project is expected to take 2 to 3 years. “It is the first time for China to conduct large-scale construction there with modern building materials,” a source told the state news agency. The UN is accepting claims on the territory until May 2009.