Enshore Subsea is developing new solutions to responsibly recover minerals, essential for Electric Vehicle batteries, from the vast deepness of the ocean floor. This pioneering new industry has the potential to create a billion-pound-a-year market in the North East of England, supporting thousands of local jobs.
The subsea engineering company, based in Darlington and Blyth, has completed trials in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, in partnership with DeepGreen Metals, Inc., developing a new process to safely collect polymetallic nodules; a key source of metals critical for the growing Electric Vehicle industry.
With more than 25 years of expertise in subsea operations, Enshore Subsea is taking the first steps in establishing this new sector for the region.
Working in partnership with OSBIT a specialist engineering company, also based in the North East of England, Enshore designed and fabricated its first Seabed Mineral Collector and recently completed a world-leading first phase project in the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean, recovering more than 75 tonnes of Polymetallic Nodules.
Polymetallic nodules are small rock concretions containing high concentrations of manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel, and can be found in vast areas of the world’s sea beds in significant volumes, enough to provide battery materials to electrify the world’s fleet of vehicles many times over.
The UK is among a few pioneering countries, which have substantial seabed exploration rights, providing the opportunity to develop a new industry bringing significant benefits to the North East.
With the right level of investment and essential government support, the recovery of seabed minerals could sustain more than 2,500 highly skilled jobs in the region within a £1 billion-per-year high technology industry.
The recovery of polymetallic nodules from the seabed will mitigate many of the major concerns connected with conventional land-based mining. The nodules are comprised of effectively 100% usable materials, and since they sit atop the seabed they do not require digging, drilling or blasting to recover the critical minerals.
Currently, electric vehicle battery elements are mined in regions of high biodiversity such as Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa, where children are known to labour in abhorrent conditions. Research shows that minerals such as nickel, cobalt and copper can be processed from polymetallic nodules with a fraction of the environmental and social impacts compared to current terrestrial mining practices.
Enshore has developed a novel method that both reduces the impact on the subsea environment and minimises plumes of seabed materials being generated during the recovery process.
For the next stage of research and development, a 50 per cent scale harvesting system is to be designed and fabricated and then trialled on-site in the Pacific by 2022.
Pierre Boyde, Managing Director of Enshore Subsea said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity for the UK, and the North East of England in particular, to create a viable and sustainable new industry, which supports the electric vehicle revolution while providing an alternative to conventional and destructive land-based mining.
“We have the technical skills and management expertise in this country to deliver this process, but we are in an international race against countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands.
“We have the experience in the UK to be a world leader in this market and support from the UK Government, both to aid research and development as well as export guarantees from UK Export Finance will be essential for our emerging industry to gain traction and in return, generate the jobs and investment to boost our regional and national economies.”
He added: “Our first stage operations in the Pacific both confirm key parts of our sustainable recovery method and demonstrate the innovation and creativity of North East England’s engineering and subsea cluster of companies to deliver a solution that will have far-reaching social, economic and environmental benefits.”
Peter Gibson MP for Darlington said: “I am delighted to see further innovation from Enshore Subsea who are at the forefront of their sector. Their continued innovation, investment, and ingenuity is a symbol of all that is great about businesses based here in the heart of the North East. Enshore Subseas’ continued commitment to Darlington is great news for good quality, well paid employment in our town.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: "Enshore is a fantastic local business who have really committed to our region. They are a division of DeepOcean, who will soon be relocating to the high-quality new office space in Feethams House in Darlington.
"It is extremely exciting that their new innovative work has the potential to create thousands of local jobs in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, making us a world leader in this pioneering industry, pumping billions of pounds into our economy.
"I have always believed my region has lead the way when it comes to innovation and new technologies, and this is being emphasised with the work we are doing on the site of the South Tees Development Corporation and the high quality local jobs that go with it, which we can now get on with now we have secured the land after winning compulsory purchase proceedings against SSI.
"This is another example of a great global business making Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool their home and putting out region on the global stage for the fantastic work they do. Once again, the Tees Valley is leading the way."
Enshore Subsea is a seabed technology specialist, based in Blyth and Darlington. It employees more than 120 highly skilled personnel and has a 25-year pedigree in the Oil and Gas, Offshore Renewables and Telecommunications industries with a strong track record of delivery and supporting the development of offshore renewable projects across the UK.
It is part of DeepOcean, a leading, subsea services provider, servicing any equipment with specialised expertise. DeepOcean serves the Oil and Gas, Offshore Interconnector and Renewables markets with Inspection, Maintenance and Repair, Subsea Construction, and Project Management and Engineering through Life-of-Field from inception to decommissioning.
It delivers value to three subsea markets; Inspection, Maintenance and Repair, Subsea Construction, and Cable Lay and Trenching with State-of-the-art vessels, over 50 ROVs, 12 subsea trenching assets, and an in-house tool manufacturing and extensive ready to use tool pool. The company has offices in Norway, UK, US, Mexico, Ghana, Congo, and France. DeepOcean is globally recognized, locally differentiated.
For further information: www.enshoresubsea.com
Funds advised by Triton are the largest shareholder of DeepOcean. The Triton funds invest in and support the positive development of medium-sized businesses headquartered in Northern Europe, Italy and Spain. The 42 companies currently in Triton’s portfolio have combined sales of over €17.2 billion and around 81,400 employees.
For further information: www.triton-partners.com