Scrap merchant set to make millions out of pounds 1 investment

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A scrap-metal merchant who bought a bulk carrier for pounds 1 when it sank off the Irish coast 11 years ago is now ready to raise its cargo - an estimated pounds 7m in iron ore.

Shaun Kent, 39, has spent the last decade raising funds and developing the technology to extract the tiny marbles of ore from the hold of the Kowloon Bridge which lies two miles off the coast of County Cork. The expertise he accumulated has already helped the families of the 44 men who died when the Kowloon Bridge's sister ship, the Derbyshire, sank 17 years ago. Mr Kent (right) was the first to pinpoint the site of the Derbyshire wreck, prompting new inquiries into the tragedy.

He is now putting the finishing touches to the diving ship for the mission which he believes will make his fortune. He aims to start work this month, snubbing critics who believed it would never happen, and expects the entire mission to be completed by the end of next summer."I'd always had a bet that I would retire by 40 and I've blown that, because I'm 40 next March. But that's all right. When I'm done, I'm just looking forward to planting millions of trees which are my real love in life."

Mr Kent, who was born in Shorne, Kent, left school at 15 but has mastered university level textbooks on hydraulics and fluid dynamics to devise the scheme which he hopes will make him a millionaire. He worked out how to find the Derbyshire while serving a sentence for possession of cannabis. "All the best jobs are planned inside," he said.

He will begin by raising the ship's anchors and propellers which he will sell to finance the main operation - raising the cargo. In essence, the ore will be brought to the surface by sending streams of water at high pressure down to the cargo hold. The pressure will sweep up the little balls of iron ore and bring them to the surface. There are nearly 160,000 tons of iron ore and another 30,000 tons in the wreckage of the ship itself.

The project will be featured in a GeoFilms documentary, The Flying Scrapman, to be broadcast on Channel 4 tonight.