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Is this the end for South Crofty tin mine?

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 04, 2013

South Crofty has been placed in administration with 35 staff made redundant.

South Crofty has been placed in administration with 35 staff made redundant.

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THE revival of mining in Cornwall is in doubt after a major stakeholder pulled its investment, potentially sounding the death knell for cash-strapped South Crofty.

Owner Western United Mines (WUM) placed the company in administration on Friday and made 35 of its 50 staff redundant.

It followed Canadian stakeholder Celeste Mining Corporation's earlier decision to drop its investment because of higher than anticipated costs, concerns and "operational complexities" at the Pool mine.

Despite millions of pounds of investment and the company promising to create more than 200 jobs last year, industry experts fear the last hopes to revive the industry have been quashed.

Senior lecturer at Camborne School of Mines, Paul Wheeler, said time was up, for now.

He added: "We would all love to see a world-class tin mine operational in Pool and the next generation of Cornish miners but it is not going to happen in this economic climate.

"They have had ten years to look at this and if they haven't been able to make any good of it in that time, perhaps they have missed the opportunity.

"There's potential there and if tin prices get to a reasonable level I am sure someone will have a look at it."

Mr Wheeler said the junior mining sector, including companies such as Celeste, was struggling to raise finance. "There will be a global upturn and the question is if South Crofty will come back in plan.

"The price of tin is reasonably good in the medium to long term but South Crofty is a very expensive old mine to operate.

"Somewhere along the line people believed the potential reward would outweigh the risks and now it's going the other way.

"It's the pure economics that have changed. Mining is a very hard-nosed business and somebody decided they are better off not putting any more money into Crofty at the moment.

"There's potential there but it's the cost of getting there and proving it to investors."

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site (CMWHS) Partnership Board co-ordinator Deborah Boden said: "I do not think losing Crofty will signal the end of mining in Cornwall as it is not the only place where people are looking for minerals.

"But mining is international business and the capital needed is so substantial that we are looking at global players."

Cornwall councillor Mark Kaczmarek worked at South Crofty as a miner for 17 years. He said: "There's always potential that it could reopen again so I would not write it off but it would be better to have a big company with financial backing behind them.

"It will not happen with a small firm with a big idea."

WUM's chief executive officer Alan Shoesmith called Celeste's failure to meet its financial responsibilities a major blow. But he said his "optimism and confidence has not been diminished.

"We have appointed an administrator to protect the mine while we stop to take breath and consolidate our position."

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3 comments

  • Amandapanda  |  August 23 2013, 8:28PM

    Hopefully this will be the same story for the open cast mine planned for Ruthvoes, as the residents are still living in limbo not knowing what will happen to there village and homes if a massive mine is to open http://tinyurl.com/pju8nng

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  • albru  |  July 09 2013, 11:10AM

    Far sadder that the once great engineering industry has nearly gone, rather than all this sentimental guff for an industry that has left little positive for the area.

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  • break  |  July 04 2013, 6:47PM

    Not only was mining one of the forms of employment in Cornwall but there were also other forms of employment which were involved with the mining industry,which gave employment to people.If Cornwall Council,or the Government,will not back mining with the help it needs to get restarted,maybe they should look into creating other area's of employment,here and now,other than house building, which will create the scale of jobs which would be created by mining.Those who do not wish mining to restart in Cornwall,or even Britain,should question whose interests they really have at heart.

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