Tin prices could trigger a revival in the Cornish tin mining industry. Demand has continued to grow but current mines are dwindling in resources left, which could lead to mines that were closed in the 1980’s being reopened.
There have been mineral exploration projects around the world searching for rare earth metals and other resources, but very few have found tin mines that are capable of matching current sites, and as such the old tin mines of the UK and particularly Cornwall could profit greatly.
Joff Bullen, president of South West Mining Association, explained the Cornish industry collapsed “because the tin price fell, not because there was a lack of tin in the ground”.
Now, Mr Bullen suggests that there are five unnamed mining companies looking at resurrecting the Cornish industry to meet new demands, “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”.
Mineral firm Marine Minerals are planning to implement new technology to extract an undersea shelf of tin off the Cornish coast estimated to contain 22 million tonnes of ore.
CEO of Marine Minerals, Mike Proudfoot, expressed confidence that the industry may restart in the near future, “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.
“Tin for the electronics industry has to come from somewhere and we believe much of it could come from the Cornwall. …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.”
There have long been predictions of a revival in the tin industry since the closures in the 1980’s but there appears to be growing surety in the market that new sources are required and with few forthcoming, Cornwall could become a mining hub again.