The Poldark legacy: How tin mining could return to Cornwall – by Jon Yeomans (The Telegraph – July 30, 2017)

In Redruth, Cornwall, reminders of the golden age of mining are everywhere. The giant obelisk of the Basset memorial glowers over the town, erected on a hill by miners in honour of Francis Basset, the local magnate, in the early 19th century. Chimneys pepper the landscape, rising up out of Morrisons car parks and housing estates. The derelict mining exchange, once the local bourse for stock trading, sits forlornly in the centre of town.

On the road to Camborne, which still lends its name to the nearby School of Mines, stands a newer, freshly painted metal pithead, marking the entrance to the South Crofty tin mine. Strongbow Exploration, a Canadian listed company, has ambitious plans to reopen the mine and dig up the high-grade tin at its deeper levels.

Though its history dates back four centuries, with evidence of Elizabethan mine workings, South Crofty has been shut for nearly 20 years, taking with it the last of Cornwall’s long mining history. But now that the BBC TV series ¬Poldark has romanticised Cornish tin mining on the small screen, can Strongbow succeed in resurrecting the real thing?

“South Crofty didn’t shut because it was all mined out, it shut because of the collapse in tin prices,” says Owen Mihalop, the chief operating officer of Strongbow.

The industry’s fall can be traced back to 1985 and the bankruptcy of the international cartel that had controlled the market for decades. A sudden surfeit of supply led to a plunge in prices, pushing tin mines to the wall. South Crofty held on longer than most because its grade, or quality, was so high, but it bowed to the inevitable in 1998.

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