MP's Bill to take advantage of sea mining
The Westcountry could enjoy a jobs windfall in the future if Britain is at the forefront of deep sea mining, an MP has said.
Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, yesterday introduced her private members' Bill to the House of Commons, which would widen the scope of minerals that engineers can mine at around three miles below the surface and at least 200 nautical miles out to sea.
Introducing her Deep Sea Mining (Temporary Provisions) Act 1981, she told MPs the technology was available to "vacuum" the seabed for valuable minerals such as nickel, copper, cobalt, manganese. These materials can be used in low-carbon energy, telecoms and other new technologies.
Mrs Murray said: "The concept of deep sea mining is not new. But as we make technological advances, this new industry is fast becoming a reality and I am keen that Britain is at the forefront of this industry.
"The United Kingdom is well-placed to benefit strategically, economically and in employment terms and the UK is well-placed to influence how deep sea mining is actually taken forward."
Mrs Murray said there was the potential in the next five years to look at exploitation of the deep sea resources and she believed it was important for the environment that the UK could control licence applications. "UK-registered firms should be able to take part in exploration and possible exploitation of these resources as much as companies from any other state," she said.
UK engineers could benefit through supply chain jobs that would probably be created in dockyard cities and towns including in Cornwall and Plymouth but also Bristol, Liverpool and Aberdeen, MPs heard.
Estimates suggest the industry could be worth up to £40 billion to the UK over the next 30 years.
Mrs Murray opened the debate with a nod to her Cornish heritage: "Mining is not a new industry, certainly not for us in Cornwall. There's a saying: 'Wherever there's a hole in the ground, there will be a Cornishman at the bottom of it."'
In response, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said mining companies were already lining up for licences to mine for minerals. With the support of the Government, given yesterday, Mrs Murry's Bill is likely to become law.