Great innovation blends the best of the old with the new – and that’s exactly what junior exploration company Cornish Tin Limited is doing in Cornwall today. The company is currently working to revive the Great Wheal Vor group of mines – a group of 26 former tin producing mines that last operated in the 1870s – using innovative new processes and technology to return them to operation sustainably.
The Great Wheal Vor mining district in Breage near Helston, has a famous history and a wealth of untapped potential. Its unique high-grade tin – historic production grades were around 5% tin – makes it a compelling location for modern tin miners like Cornish Tin Limited, and offers an opportunity for Cornwall to become a leading tin producing region once again. Also, the Wheal Vor area produces copper, and is even prospective for lithium.
New potential on historic land
Wheal Vor’s abundance of tin made it the richest tin mine in the world in the 19th century. It closed in the 1870s, not through any lack of tin resource, but due to a long-running litigation dispute between mineral owners. Aside from a few surface-level projects in the 1900s, the mines – and their tin and copper resources – have remained untouched for more than a century.
Over the past three years, there have been increasing deficits in tin supplies across the world while demand continues to rise. It’s a metal that’s used in essential everyday items like smartphones, laptops, and circuit boards – and a metal that’ll be critical to the future of electric vehicles. Today, Southeast Asia produces most of the world’s tin, but its production involves extensive use of fossil fuels. Thanks to the tonnage and high grades of the rich tin resources remaining in Cornwall, many believe that Cornwall has a crucial role in supplying sustainably extracted tin to the UK manufacturing industry and overseas export.
Cornwall’s tin resources present a compelling opportunity for modern mining, and Cornish Tin Limited is seizing the potential. But Cornish Tin Limited is focused on mining the region’s tin in a more sustainable way than ever before – to ensure a domestic supply of clean tin from Cornwall, extracted using sustainable energy.
A more sustainable, strategic approach
Cornish Tin Limited has acquired control of the mineral rights to the project and has been working on geological desktop research for the past four years. The company plans to commence an exploration diamond drilling programme, drilling approximately 7,000 metres in 33 holes. The research will be ongoing to test the extent to which the mineral resource can be viably extracted and processed while being powered by sustainable energy. The company believes that it is essential to change modern perceptions of mining by following environmentally and socially conscious practices.
“At the moment, Cornish Tin is a research company. With Wheal Vor, we have the opportunity to design a mineral project from scratch, so we want to make sure it’s as close to zero-carbon as possible. There’s a wealth of green technologies we can take advantage of in Cornwall, and we’re developing a more sustainable approach to extracting the resources we need.”
Sally Norcross-Webb, Founder and CEO of Cornish Tin Limited.
Like many of Cornwall’s modern mines, Cornish Tin Limited is looking to power its future operations using sustainable energy supplies. Notably, the Wheal Vor Project area is prospective for lithium, potentially both dissolved in brines within geological structures, and recoverable by hard rock mining – the Tregonning Granite is a mica bearing granite similar to the St Austell granite which is currently being drilled for lithium.
There’s also the potential for geothermal energy to be extracted from water in the mine. Plus, the mine’s prospective high grade of tin means the company will be able to extract a greater supply of the metal with less waste and less impact on the land. The company envisages an unusually high proportion of ore being processed underground, with less resulting volume of pre-concentrate to be trucked by hydrogen/electric vehicles to an off-site processing plant powered by sustainable energy.
Part of a connected mining region
Cornwall’s mining heritage means Cornish Tin Limited is connected to a wealth of expertise and support in the region.
Over the past few years, the company has been in close collaboration with the Camborne School of Mines, working with both MSc students and lecturers to explore how it can create a project that has direct benefits to local communities.
“Our project has the potential to create more than 200 direct jobs, as well as hundreds of indirect jobs in mining services and other support businesses,” explains Sally. “Companies like Cornish Tin provide additional career opportunities which are desperately needed in the region.
If you want to explore some of the investment opportunities in Cornwall – or you’d like to find out how your business could thrive in the region – get in touch
with Cornwall Trade and Investment today.