Region’s expertise sought for Pacific seabed venture

THE company behind an ambitious project to harvest minerals from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is looking for Yorkshire expertise to help it inject £40bn into the UK economy.

UK Seabed Resources, part of Lockheed Martin, wants Yorkshire suppliers to help get the project off the ground.

Stephen Ball, chief executive of Lockheed Martin UK and UK Seabed Resources, told the Yorkshire Post: “We are looking for Yorkshire mining engineers to develop this nascent industry.

“Yorkshire has a strong engineering heritage.”

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The company is also looking for maritime experts with expertise in the deep sea supply chain.

“We’re looking to pull together a consortium of companies. Yorkshire has a very strong mining and maritime capability and it has been involved in North Sea oil and gas,” said Mr Ball.

“We’re creating a new industry here. Mineral and resource prices are going up – that drives the economics.”

The project will harvest mineral-rich “nodules” – rocks the size of tennis balls – in a 58,000 square kilometre region between Hawaii and Mexico.

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Prime Minister David Cameron described the project as “an enormous scientific opportunity”.

he said: “The UK is leading the way in this exciting new industry which has the potential to create specialist and supply chain jobs across the country and is expected to be worth up to £40n to the
UK economy over the next 30 years.”

UK Seabed Resources, in partnership with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, has received a licence and contract to explore the seabed, a move Mr Cameron described as “excellent news for British companies and British scientists”.

The nodules are found “12-and-a-half Shards deep” under the surface of the ocean, according to Universities and Science Minister David Willetts, referring to the height of the new London landmark.

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They could provide millions of tonnes of metals including nickel, copper and cobalt to industries.

Mr Willetts described the venture as “an extraordinary opportunity for underwater mining for these valuable and important minerals” and said it could lead to a better understanding of deep sea biology.

He stressed that the environmental goal is to make sure any disruption or slurry from the work does not reach layers of the ocean inhabited by marine life.