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Scots oil workers head-hunted for $1tn rock search

Lockheed Martin are seeking Scottish oil workers to search the Pacific Ocean for special rocks. Picture: Getty

Lockheed Martin are seeking Scottish oil workers to search the Pacific Ocean for special rocks. Picture: Getty

  • by ALLISTER THOMAS
 

SCOTS oil workers are being head-hunted to plunder one of the world’s deepest oceans for special rocks worth an estimated $1 trillion dollars.

Defence and technology firm Lockheed Martin wants experts from Aberdeen to recover valuable metals like copper, nickel and manganese from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

The company has been granted one of the first licenses to harvest the rocks, which were discovered by accident in the 1970s when the Lockheed Corporation, as it was then known, was commissioned to find a sunken Russian nuclear submarine.

Stephen Ball, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin, spoke at Aberdeen’s subsea centre and said the venture to recover the valuable metals could mean the creation of a new industry.

He said: “Back in the 1970s and 80s, Lockheed Corporation was contracted to survey part of the Pacific Ocean.

“We discovered that on the bottom of the ocean, about 4,000 metres down, there were these nodules of tennis balls of material which had very high metal content.

“There is around one trillion dollars (£589 billion) on the first area which we have been given rights to.

“We are looking for companies capable of building equipment and recovering materials and used to working in deep waters. Effectively, it is the creation of a new industry.”

At the time of discovery, recovering the rocks was not at the time deemed worthwhile economically as there were plentiful sources of the metals on land.

However, this has changed as resources have been consumed and the company are now set to recover the seabed metals.

The project, which Scots workers are being hired for, will take place in depths of up to 2.5 miles in a 22,400 square-mile area between Hawaii and Mexico.

It is hoped that millions of tonnes of the valuable metals can be brought to the surface from the bottom of the Pacific.

Scottish Enterprise and industry body Subsea UK are currently looking into how lucrative the project could be.

It is thought the new industry of deep sea mining could bring in tens of billions to the UK economy.

Neil Gordon, Chief Executive of Subsea UK, said: “Deep sea mining could represent a trillion-dollar global opportunity.

“The UK government believes it could add tens of billions to the economy over the next 30 years.

“This is, in some part, due to the fact that the subsea oil and gas industry has developed technologies and techniques which have made operating in deep water feasible and economically viable.

“Our subsea companies could be in pole position to capitalise on this market because our industry has experience in the technology and engineering required.”

 

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