Soviet sub hunt data used for seabed mining exploration

Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest military equipment manufacturers, is planning to use data from a cold war sub hunt for deep sea mining exploration.

 

Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest military equipment manufacturers, is planning to use data from a cold war sub hunt for deep sea mining exploration.

The company's subsidiary UK Seabed Resources has major plans for seabed exploration on the Pacific ocean floor south of Hawaii and west of Mexico, the BBC reports.

UK Seabed Resources applied to the International Seabed Authority for the exploration approvals early last month.

According to the ISA "the application covers an area of 149,815  square kilometres and is located in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Central Pacific Ocean. In accordance with the applicable regulations, the area has been divided by the applicant into two areas of equal estimated commercial value".

The announcement was welcomed by UK prime minister David Cameron.

Speaking at an event in London, Cameron stated that talks are already underway with a supply chain of up to 100 countries involved, adding that it would be worth around GBP 40 billion to the nation, according to the Guardian. 

The miner will be using seafloor data obtained during the hunt for a soviet submarine,  the K-129, during which the American government faked a commercial seabed mining expedition to cover the recovery of the sunken submarine.

Lockheed Martin was subcontracted to survey the area targeted, and as such “we had survey data as part of the heritage of our company,” Seabed Resources CEO Stephen Ball told Bloomberg.

“We have conducted surveys in the past of that part of the ocean, so we understood what was there.”

Seabed exploration is currently a hot topic in Australia, with the Northern Territory seeing a recent spike in exploration permits, which resulted in a moratorium on the process, which may not be lifted until 2015.

It has also come to the fore in Papua New Guinea, where local MPs have urged the government to speed up seabed mining approvals process, particularly for Nautilus Minerals.

While Nautilus has a licence to mine copper and zinc on the ocean floor, construction of the project remains stalled because of a disagreement with the PNG Government, which is yet to pay a $22 million stake in the project.

 

Image: Nautilus Minerals

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