Strategic metal mining set to gain traction in Britain – by Harpreet Bhal (Reuters U.S. – April 2, 2014)

LONDON, April 2 (Reuters) – Mining firms are looking favourably at Britain as a project destination with deposits of strategic metals leading a small mining revival following the launch of the country’s first new metal mine in 45 years.

The UK has deposits of metals such as tin – used in mobile phones, and tungsten – used to make drilling tools – as well as antimony and tellurium – used in the semiconductor industry – seen as having bullish long-term price outlooks as the appetite for electronic gadgets expands in the developing world.

The southwest counties of Cornwall and Devon experienced extensive mining in the 19th century when metals including copper, lead and tin were keenly sought, but fierce competition from lower cost operations in Latin America, Asia and Africa resulted in projects being shut and many sites abandoned.

While analysts said it is unlikely for Britain to experience another mining boom, the country is being eyed by some as a favourable destination due to competitive labour costs and tax rates, as well as deposits of strategic metals – a vital component in technology and industry.

Australia’s Wolf Minerals said in March it will begin production of tin and tungsten by next year at its Hemerdon mine in Devon, the world’s third-largest tungsten resource.

A second potential tin project, by Treliver Minerals is currently in an exploration phase in Cornwall.

“The Wolf Minerals investment has catalysed other people to come and look for deposits in the UK,” said Andrew Bloodworth, science director for minerals and waste at the British Geological Survey (BGS).

“If an Australian company can come in and put together a project and get all the permissions, that sends a hugely important signal to other people to say you can do this.”

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