QINGDAO, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Construction of China's national deep-sea base is expected to begin this year in eastern Shandong Province, officials there said Monday.
Initial planning for the base has been finished and detailed construction plans are being drafted, said Liu Baohua, director of the base's administrative center.
The construction work will start after the State Ocean Administration (SOA) approves the construction plans, said Liu.
Located in east China's coastal city of Qingdao, the base will cost 495 million yuan (76.2 million U.S. dollars) and will be a multi-functional institution that will aid China in its study and exploration of the ocean, according to Liu.
Scientists believe that the area's seabeds hold abundant deposits of rare metals and methane hydrate, a solidified form of natural gas that may serve as a new source of energy.
The base will also serve as a ground support station for a submersible vehicle nicknamed "Jiaolong," which reached a record depth of 3,759 meters during test runs conducted last year, according to Liu.