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Seabed tin mining survey begins

By mwill  |  Posted: February 17, 2013

Crew recovering sand samples as part of Marine Minerals benthic survey operations (Photo credit: Marine Minerals)

Crew recovering sand samples as part of Marine Minerals benthic survey operations (Photo credit: Marine Minerals)

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Marine Minerals Ltd, the Cornish company investigating opportunities for the recovery of waste tin from the seabed, began its survey work this weekend.

On Friday, the company started its benthic surveys, which involve filming the seabed and collecting sand samples to examine the flora, fauna and marine life. This part of the survey will continue during the current good weather. The company is using a high-resolution camera to record images of the life living in the top layer of sand.  Following acquisition, the samples and photos will be the subject of several months of laboratory work.

On Saturday the vibrocore survey began, carried out by the specialist 24 metre survey vessel, "MV Flatholm", owned and operated by Cornish company Coastline Surveys Ltd. This work involves collecting core samples of sand from beneath the seabed, which will primarily be used to assess more precisely the extent and characteristics of the tin deposits in the seabed sand.

The boat started its journey from Perran Bay on Saturday and is currently working its way around the coast to St Ives Bay. It is anticipated that the the marine surveys will be completed during the next few days.

John Sewell, Commercial Manager for Marine Minerals Ltd, said:

"We have been lucky with the weather so far this weekend which has allowed us to make good progress with the surveys.  In addition to the scientists and geologists who have been conducting and overseeing the survey operations, we have also invited members from local groups so that they can see first hand the work we are doing."

"We are acutely aware of a number of sensitive issues that need to be considered and so are pleased that we were joined today by the Chairman of Hayle Harbour Advisory Committee, John Bennett and Hayle Town Councillor, Harry Blakeley.  Tomorrow a representative from the St. Agnes Quay Fishermen's Association will also be joining us on the boat."

The environmental group, Surfers Against Sewage, has spoken out against the proposed seabed mining. Campaign Director Andy Cummins said:

"Disturbing and removing significant amounts of sediment from the North Cornish coast has the potential to devastate the fragile and complex environments that support surfing, tourism and fishing.  SAS are raising these concerns and will continue to engage through the licencing application and we urge any interested parties to do the same."

Harry Blakeley, Hayle UKIP councillor,who was part of the group that visited the MV Flatholm this weekend, told ThisIsCornwall that he was very supportive of the project, saying "This is probably one of the better things to happen locally."

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