Historic Cornwall tin mine could re-open in 2018

Canadian junior Strongbow Exploration Inc (CVE:SBW) last month closed the acquisition of the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall and local media reports operations could restart within two years.

South Crofty, approximately 390km drive west of London on the Celtic Sea Coast, was the last tin mine in Europe when it closed in 1998. Several companies attempted to revive the mines between 2001 and 2013 but due to poor market conditions the assets were put into administration in 2013.

Vancouver-based Strongbow paid in the order of US$2m for 100% of the mining permission area which includes 26 former producing mines. Strongbow filed a National Instrument 43-101  technical report in June this year detailing indicated mineral resources of 1.9 million tonnes grading 1.7% Sn equivalent and 1.2 million tonnes inferred grading at 1.52%.

"We think that really we will be down there for decades"

The West Briton quotes Richard Williams, President and CEO of Strongbow, as saying the company "needs to demonstrate to the market that there is potential for long term mining at the site":

"At the moment, it is estimated (for the markets) that there is eight to nine years mine life.

"But we think that really we will be down there for decades."

Local media reports environmental work focused on treating and pumping water from the flooded mine will commence in September. Existing mine infrastructure that is potentially useable includes 4 vertical shafts with a combined depth of 2,940m.

According to Williams capital expenditure to restart mining would be minimum US$100 million.  Near surface copper mineralization exists at the site, but Strongbow is focusing on tin-only mineralization that occurs from a depth of 400 meters.

Strongbow also owns tin properties in Alaska and base and precious metal projects in Canada. The little traded company is worth $10.1 million on the TSX Venture Exchange after rising 230% in value this year.

The tin price has surged nearly 40% to trade at $18,400 a tonne currently from multi-year lows of $13,200 a tonne hit mid-January. The metal reached a record high of $33,600 at the height of the mining boom in 2011.

Nearly 10 million tonnes at an average grade of 1.00% tin were mined at South Crofty between 1906 and 1998. Mining in the area dates back to the Bronze age, flourished during Roman times and reached a peak in the latter half of the 1800s when Cornwall accounted for nearly half the global trade in tin.