Monday, 14 December 2009

Hopes for a return to metal mining in Cornwall

Cornwall has an illustrious history of metal mining. In the 19th century the county was the world's biggest producer of copper and tin. The demise came with the discovery of large porphyry copper deposits in the Americas, and vast alluvial tin deposits in South East Asia. Copper mining effectively ended in the 19th century, while tin mining carried on at the deeper levels, the final mine, South Crofty closing down in the mid 1980s.

Now there is hope of a revival. I was talking to one of my ex-CSM students, John Webster at the CSM Lunch on Saturday. John, who left CSM with a Higher Diploma in 1980, has been recruited by South Crofty's new owners, Western Union Mines, to bring the mine back into operation within the next two years.
Originally South Crofty mined a narrow vein of cassiterite, in contact with the granite host rock, to produce tin and by-product tungsten. However various other ore-types have been discovered, containing copper, zinc, silver, lithium and indium, which could make South Crofty a true polymetallic mine, that could take advantage of fluctuations in metal prices, rather than be at the mercy of tin prices.

The next phase of operations will involve de-watering and WUM is working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that the process is carried out in line with strict environmental regulations.

John is confident that the future is looking very bright indeed and Cornwall will very soon become a world class base metal producer once more.

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