Skip to comments.First British Metals Mine for 45 Years to Create Jobs and Protect Manufacturing
Posted on 06/09/2014 6:43:19 AM PDT by Red Badger
At 3,422°C, it has the highest melting point of any metal. You can find it in razor blades, turbine engines and wrenches and it is what gives small playing darts their seemingly inordinate weight.
Now, on the fringes of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, tungsten is to be mined in the south of England, in a move that metals watchers are hoping will help plug a chronic gap in the European market and, as a result, keep the prices of many household items in check.
Excavation work begun on the Hermerdon mine today, marking the first breaking of ground on a metal mine in the UK for more 45 years.
England's south west had been a mining hub since the Bronze Age before workers hung up their hard hats at the South Crofty mine for the last time in 1998.
Now, it's hoped that hundreds of jobs will be created by Wolf Minerals, the mine operator, and that the project will lead to welcome regeneration in a region that has seen agricultural jobs disappear with the advent of technology and automation.
Directly, the mine is expected to create more than 200 jobs, with a further ripple to be felt across the wider local economy.
"I'm speaking from Somerset which isn't far from where the mine will be," Anthony Lipmann, a metals trader tells IBTimes UK. "Even farmers are happy because they're getting several roads which they've been begging the council to build for decades."
The mine will cost around £130m to excavate, with first metals expected to be produced next year. Wolf Minerals, an Australian company, has earmarked the facility to produce 3,000 tonnes of tungsten and tin each year.
But it's the former which will have officials in the European Commission excited, since tungsten appears on its list of critical raw materials.
China produces 80% of the world's tungsten and analysts worry that with such a monopoly on production, European manufacturers could have been held to ransom.
"I think it's pretty rare in Europe, so certainly this mine is very welcome," says Charles Swindon, managing director at RJH Trading.
The latest World Tungsten Report says that "the major trade flows for tungsten are obviously from China, the main producer, to the larger economies such as the USA, Japan and Europe, the principal consumers".
Having a reliable supply of tungsten based in England then, will reassure manufacturers, particularly given recent revelations over fraudulent metals financing in Qingdao Port, China.
The impact of the investment looks set to be felt around the local community. Local newspaper the Plymouth Herald reports that "contracts ranging in value from around £100,000 to £3m have already been awarded to companies across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset as a result".
Design and engineering contractor Centristic secured a £3m contract to provide 11 conveyers for extracted materials, while civil engineering firm Dawnus will pocket £1.7m for the provision of concrete structures.
And while environmentalists may not be happy at the prospect of a new mine (the site has previously hosted a mine) opening in an area of natural beauty, analysts are confident that there will be minimal negative impact.
"There's a paradox that mining is, quite rightly, worrisome to developing countries. This mine will prove that in developed countries you can probably do it so cleanly that nobody will be affected," said one trader, implying that the social responsibility required in the UK is much higher than in developing countries.
The Greens will find some way to stop it, I’m sure. They’ll just call it the solid equivalent of ‘fracking’ or it will be detrimental to Gaea or global Warming or something................
Duck-Duck-Go WS2, Tungsten DiSulfide and it's friction reduction properties as a coating amazing stuff. JMHO one of the next cutting edge arena's besides 3D printing, Graphene, etc will be friction reduction.
Our deep is the deposit ?
Tungsten is critical to the making of fake gold bars.
Reading deeper, I discover it’s an open pit operation...
Interesting, since the Cornish miners were known for their hard rock, deep mining - including being a major part of the California Gold Rush.
That why you can buy Cornish Pasties in the CA Highway 49 towns...:^)
Yes, there seems to be a huge demand for those of late...................
Are they larger than American pasties? Or smaller?................
Yes. I understand the Fed has already put in a large order which has nothing to do with the fact that the Germans want their gold back.
You're probably right.
Thanks for posting. I had the pleasure of visiting the Hemerdon mine site as a side-trip arranged by my boss when I worked for AMAX Inc back in 1981 as a semi-boondoggle to pay for a honeymoon trip to Europe so that my bride and I could both be in Europe at the same time. She was auditing the European subsidiary of AMAX Inc. at the time.
AMAX has just one employee, a mine engineer, working full-time on-site at the time. After our “tour” of the mine site (five minutes looking at an undeveloped area) He took me for a sail around Plymouth harbor in his little sailboat on in a drizzle that was supposed to be a pretty good day in those parts.
It was only a semi-boondoggle as to the particular timing as the mine was in my portfolio of responsibility as the Tungsten analyst for the Climax Molybdenum Division of AMAX Inc.
I am very glad to see that somebody woke up and said “Hey wait, what if the Chinese cut off our Tungsten supply?” (and a whole lot of other metals and rare earths needed for microelectronics, jet and rocket engines, etc.)