Plymouth companies being sought to partner with a global technology giant Lockheed Martin
PLYMOUTH companies are being actively sought to partner with a global technology giant in a £40billion project to "harvest" precious metals from the Pacific Ocean bed.
The UK arm of Lockheed Martin aerospace and defence company is to steer a Government-backed scheme to collect minerals from mud and silt up to 6km below the ocean's surface.
But even a firm as huge as US-owned Lockheed Martin admits it can't tackle such a project on its own. So it is seeking partners in Britain's leading marine industry cities: Glasgow, Southampton, Liverpool, Aberdeen – and Plymouth.
The firm has spoken to Plymouth University and is keen to hear from Plymouth companies, large and small, that want to be involved.
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With the project centring on the gathering of metal ores from the ocean bed, it will involve using remote-controlled submersibles and then pumping the materials to surface ships. So Lockheed Martin UK, which is also working with scientists from the National Oceanography Centre and Natural History Museum, is particularly keen to hear from marine engineering and technology firms – and says they could reap a financial bonanza which would boost them and Plymouth's economy. London-based spokesman John Neilson said: "In Plymouth there are companies with the technology, skills and expertise that can contribute to this project and its success. We are open to talk to anyone with such relevant expertise and skills and have had initial discussions with Plymouth University about ways we can work together."
The project, run by UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin UK, is projected to boost the UK economy by about £40billion over a 30-year period. It won't involve mining, but the ecologically-sound collection of "polymetallic nodules" from the ocean-bed in a 58,000sq km region between Hawaii and Mexico.
These are then turned into precious metals, such as copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese, used in industries such as construction and aerospace.