As many as five major mining companies are now competing for the tin in Cornwall with a slew of new mines and projects set to begin.
Cornwall’s mining industry dates back to pre-historic times and its abundance of metals has been suggested as one of the reasons why the Roman’s invaded Britain.
More than a billion pounds worth of tin, copper, zinc and arsenic, were extracted from more than 2,000 operational pits in its industrial revolution heyday.
However overseas competition began to kill the industry towards the end of the 20th century and the few remaining pits were closed after the price of tin collapsed in 1985.
Joff Bullen, president of South West Mining Association, said its rising value could spark a major revival.
He said: “Mining in Cornwall collapsed in the 1980s because the tin price fell – not because there was a lack of tin in the ground.
“There are now five bona fide companies seriously looking at Cornwall today.
“Cornwall is in an ideal position. It is well known that there is an international shortage of tin. The world’s existing tin mines are running out of reserves and despite a lot of prospecting, no more tin has been found to fill this shortfall.
“If we put all these factors into the melting pot, these five companies are looking at Cornwall because Cornwall has known ore reserves.
“We should therefore encourage these companies for what they can bring to the region.”
The price of tin on the London Metal Exchange currently stands at $20,000 a tonne but experts predict this could soon double.
The companies looking to cash in include Marine Minerals, which is working off the north Cornish coast and Treliver Minerals, which has a mine near St Columb, Cornwall.
Previous mining eras have lacked the technology to harvest the vast 5ft deep underground shelf of the metal, located a kilometre off the coast.
But Mike Proudfoot, CEO at Marine Minerals, is confident his firm will be landing high-grade tin at a Cornish port by 2017.
He said: “In less than four years there will be a global shortfall in supply at the same time as demand continues to grow.
“The huge San Raphael reserves in southern Peru, which supplies more than five per cent of the world’s tin, will be completely exhausted by 2017.
“This is not a prediction of what might happen in 20 years. It’s happening now – and for the electronics industry it represents something of an emergency.
“Tin for the electronics industry has to come from somewhere and we believe much of it could come from the Cornwall.
“The general public, especially in Cornwall, could be forgiven for thinking that they’ve heard all this before, over and over again.
“But the reality this time is that with the global demand for tin currently standing at 300,000 tonnes per year and a substantial shortfall looming in the next three years, it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that new reserves need to come on stream right now.”
A mining revival has sparked concern among environmentalists, however the industry insists it can negate the impact through modern technology.
Mr Proudfoot said his operation will also create at least 100 jobs.
He added: “One of our biggest problems is getting the public to understand that modern extraction methods are nothing like old-fashioned mining. Today mining is subject to strict environmental rules.”
“It is a waste tip on the seabed. So this operation might even play a role in cleaning up the environment.
“A renewal of mining here will pay wages, pay taxes, pay VAT, bring money into the country and increase the region’s and the nation’s coffers.
“The Chancellor should be thanking us.”
Read more: http://www.westbriton.co.uk/Cornwall-facing-tin-rush-mining-operations-look/story-24551781-detail/story.html#ixzz3JR5iFqy1
Follow us: @cornishguardian on Twitter | cornishguardian on Facebook