China is drilling a hole in the desert more than 11,000m deep in order to study areas deep beneath the planet’s surface.

The operation – reported in state media – started on Tuesday and is located in the Xinjiang region in northwest China.

The drilling process will go deep into the Earth, penetrating more than 10 continental strata.

With a planned depth of 11,100 metres, the borehole is certainly no shallow effort but falls short of the deepest ever man-made hole.

The current record has been held since 1979 by the Kola Superdeep Borehole, a Soviet project located near the Russian border with Norway, with a depth of 12,262m (40,230ft).

“The construction difficulty of the drilling project can be compared to a big truck driving on two thin steel cables,” state media reported academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Sun Jinsheng, as saying.

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Some equipment involved in the operation weighs more than 2,000 tonnes. The Tarim Basin, where the hole is located, is difficult to explore due to its harsh ground environment and complicated underground conditions.

China’s Xinjiang region, where the construction of the borehole is underway, has repeatedly been in the news in recent years due to the state’s persecution of the Uyghur people.

Earlier this year, Sky News went inside the region to report on the latest phase of a campaign of oppression.

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