Tin mining – Cornish dreams and Myanmar reality – by Andy Home (Reuters/Daily Mail – August 22, 2016)


LONDON, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Hope springs eternal in Cornwall when it comes to reviving tin mining in this southwestern corner of the United Kingdom. Canada’s Strongbow Exploration is the latest to try to rekindle the dying embers of what once was one of the world’s largest tin-mining hubs.

It has just bought out of administration the South Crofty mine, which was the last Cornish tin mine to close in 1998. Many others have tried and failed to get South Crofty producing again. There is still plenty of tin in the area, albeit submerged beneath the water that has flooded the mine since closure. The real issue is price.

Low prices laid the Cornish tin industry low in the 1990s. And although the current London Metal Exchange (LME) tin price of around $18,500 a tonne is much higher than back then, it is a far cry from the peak of $33,600 recorded in 2011.

The price slide in the intervening five years derives in part from the same sort of supply shock that sent prices spiralling in the early 1990s.

Then it was the surprise emergence of a new mega-mine in Brazil. Today it is the equally unexpected impact of a huge, new tin-mining area in Myanmar.

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