Cameron eyes £40bn sea bed mining boost

PRIME Minister David Cameron yesterday hailed a new deep sea mining licence, saying the exploration could be worth up to £40bn to the UK economy over the next 30 years.

UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of defence firm Lockheed Martin UK, has been granted a commercial licence in partnership with the UK government to mine a 58,000 square kilometre section of the Pacific Ocean seabed for metals including nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese.

Speaking at the launch event in London, Cameron said the exploration licence would create “great value for the UK economy”.

“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 £40bn to the UK economy over the next 30 years,” he added.

“With our technology, skills, scientific and environmental expertise at the forefront, this demonstrates that the UK is open for business as we compete in the global race.”

UK Seabed Resources will explore to a depth of 4,000 metres – the size of 12.5 Shard towers put end to end – and bring up tennis ball-sized metallic nodules to the surface where they will be mined for minerals that are used across a variety of industries including construction, aerospace, alternative energy and communications.

The resources company was granted the licence by the International Seabed Authority under the sponsorship of the UK government, and is supported by university and science minister David Willetts.

Around 100 UK supply chain operators are now looking to get involved in the project, which is believed to be the first deep sea mining licence of its kind for commercial purposes.

Exploration of the sea bed, between Hawaii and Mexico, will start in late summer.