ENGINEERING firm Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) has won a £60m contract to extract rich mineral deposits from the seabed, including diamonds and gold from an undersea volcano in Papa New Guinea.
The news comes after the Wallsend-based company, which is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of remote intervention equipment, doubled turnover from £60m to £130m this year.
Across its five business streams (remotely operated vehicles, trenching, renewables, nuclear and mining) SMD has experienced continued growth, which has seen its workforce double from 250 in 2010 to 500 this year.
The company is now gearing up to help Canadian mining company Nautilus, recover mineral deposits from the sea bed using pioneering technology.
Andrew Hodgson, chief executive officer of SMD, said: “There are a lot of valuable minerals under the sea, like copper and gold, that have never been exploited.
“There are very few companies in the world who have the technology to go a mile under water and extract these materials from volcanoes. This will be the world’s first deep water sub-sea mining project and work is scheduled to start at the end of next year.
“Our first underwater mining site in Papua New Guinea is very small in relation to other mining sites across the world. This could be massive as long as the technology works. By value, at £60m, this is the biggest contract for SMD.”