Dudnance Lane, Pool, Redruth, TR15 3QT
Tel: (01209) 715777
Cornwall's last big mine
South Crofty Mine is situated mid-way between Camborne and Redruth at Pool in Cornwall. Beginning its life as a small sett called Penhellick Vean in the 1590's, it grew as it absorbed the smaller mines around it, becoming South Wheal Crofty in 1854. Initially a shallow tin mine and then a copper mine, the mine workings went back into the deep tin zone from the 1860's onwards and copper production began to decline. In 1906 South Crofty Mine Limited became the foundation of the modern mine which was worked for tin, arsenic and tungsten during the early 20th century, but by the 1960's tin was the sole product. The company bought the neighbouring Dolcoath mine in 1936. Ore production, which had not exceeded 75,000 tons a year since 1906, was increased to 92,000 tons in 1959 following improvements in both mine and mill. The workings eventually reached almost 3000 feet in depth, equalling Dolcoath, and stretched from Centenary Street in Camborne to Barncoose.
A 15 foot by 9 foot inclined tunnel was excavated during the mid 1980's and was intended to be the main mine access. The upper sections which pass through poor ground close to surface contain steel arches for support. 50 yards down from the portal on the right-hand side is the connection to Eastern Valley Shaft which was part of the famous Dolcoath Mine. The decline was driven approximately 600 yards from surface and in 1988 all work stopped, only the top 250 yards is accessible above the water level. At a point 200 yards from the portal, access has been gained to the series of parallel stopes which belong to the North Tincroft Lode, sections of these are very old, late 1600's but the last major period of working dates from the early 1900's to the 1940's. Traditional open shrink stoping has been employed and pillars left for support, this has given rise to some very large voids.
The mine closed, controversially, in 1998 after some 400 years of almost continuous work, still possessing significant reserves and several tempting exploration targets.
In March 2001 a new locally formed company named Baseresult Holdings Limited. bought the mine with the stated aim of re-opening it. In the same year the company started refurbishment of the New Cooks Kitchen section of the mine. By 2003 an underground refurbishment of the Tuckingmill Decline and Old Engine shaft was under way, and later that year access was mined into New Cooks Kitchen Deep Adit level from the Tuckingmill Decline. The refurbishment of the New Cooks Kitchen section was completed in October 2003 and opened to the public for tours.
In 2004 mining commenced at the 10-fathom (60 foot) level drilling a cross-cut north from the Tuckingmill Decline to New Cooks Kitchen Shaft. In 2006 equipment from the dormant Wheal Jane processing plant was purchased, and although some of this was outdated, it was planned that some elements would be refurbished at South Crofty to be used in the new mill adjacent to the decline entrance
In November 2007 a new company named Western United Mines Limited was formed to own and operate the mine. The previous owner of the mine, Baseresult Holdings Limited was the majority shareholder of the new company alongside Casserite LP, an investment vehicle acting for Galena Asset Management, a subsidiary of commodity trading company Trafigura. By this time the mine was employing 26 people and total capital investment to re-open the mine was forecast to reach £9 million by June 2008 with the anticipation of its re-opening at the end of 2009 after further investment of £50 million. The owners of the mine stated that it had the "potential for a mining life of eighty years".
On 28th November 2007 the owners of the mine successfully challenged the regeneration plan developed by Kerrier District Council for the area around the surface workings. Crofty Developments Limited, a partner of Western United Mines appealed to the High Court on the basis that it had not been involved in the consultation process.
The price of tin increased from below $4,000/tonne in 2002 to over $17,000/tonne in March 2010, and the economic viability of the South Crofty mine, with identified and inferred reserves of about 50,000 tonnes of tin (in 1994) had improved considerably.
In May 2011 a Canadian company, Celeste Copper Corporation, entered into an earn-in agreement to acquire up to a 100% interest of the property and assets of the mine.
By 2012 the area covered by South Crofty extended over the setts of some 34 former mines, and Celeste Copper Corporation estimated that there were about 7.95 million tonnes of tin in the mine, valued at £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion). The company said it planned to start pumping out the shallower workings in the Dolcoath section in 2013 at a cost of £2.6 million. However, in November 2012, UNESCO called for a halt on work to re-open the mine until "an assessment had been made of the project's impact" because it said it had not been consulted before planning consent was granted in 2011. South Crofty is located within the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape which had been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006.
In June 2013 the South Crofty site was placed into administration.
In October 2015 a local newspaper again raised the idea that the mine could be re-opened.
In March 2016 it was revealed that the Canadian company Strongbow had acquired, from administration, a 100% interest in the South Crofty Tin Project and associated mineral rights in Cornwall.
Midway between Camborne and Redruth just south of the A3047 road.
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