Through a new subsidiary, called UK Seabed Resources, LMUK has become the first commercial organisation to obtain an exploration licence from the International Seabed Authority (ISA).
Lockheed Martin UK (LMUK), in partnership with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, is predicted to have a high economic potential worth at least £1bn a year to the UK economy through the collection of valuable polymetallic nodules from the Pacific Ocean floor.
These polymetallic nodules are situated about 4 kilometres beneath the ocean’s surface and can provide millions of tonnes of copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, as well as rare earth minerals, which could be used in the construction, aerospace, alternative energy, as well as other industries.
The seabed exploration area is approximately 1,500 kilometres west of Mexico and 4,000 kilometres south of Hawaii.
Current estimates predict that harvesting polymetallic nodules can contribute approximately £40 billion to the UK national economy, over a 30-year period.
UK Seabed Resources is collaborating with UK government departments and research institutions on environmental and industrial aspects of the project. It must be noted, however, that the firm is concentrated on harvesting of polymetallic nodules and not manganese crusts, which are found on hydrothermal vents.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The award of this exploration licence to UK Seabed Resources is excellent news for British companies and British scientists, and the Government is extremely pleased to have supported it.
“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. 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."
“Environmentally responsible collection of polymetallic nodules presents a complex engineering challenge, but our team has the knowledge and experience necessary to help position the UK at the forefront of this emerging industry,” said Stephen Ball, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin UK and UK Seabed Resources.
“We are offering British companies, research institutions and academia exciting opportunities to become involved in this cutting edge business,” said Stephen Ball.
Photo: Sea Technology