It is estimated that production could begin in 2021. I am in regular contact with Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Strongbow, and there is every reason to be optimistic.
As always with mining, there have been many false starts. Tin prices vary, but have rallied of late. Demand for tin has increased dramatically. It is the main element used in solder, which joins up electronic circuit boards on mobile phones, tablets and TVs. These changes mean world tin prices are currently at around 20,000 dollars per tonne – an 8-10 fold increase on 1998. Global demand for tin is predicted to remain stable, but supply is likely to decline over the next few years due to a fall in production in China, Malaysia and Peru.
One of the challenges we face is ensuring that the “Red River” does not run red again. In the mining days of the past, various pollutants entered the water and gave it a red appearance (hence the name). We have to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that we protect the ecology in and around the river. I worked with the Environment Agency and Strongbow, the owners of the mine, to find the right kind of filtration and water purification processes and permits were then issued late last year.
We have also learnt that Cornwall has considerable lithium reserves, including in South Crofty. Cornish Lithium is exploring for lithium within the hot springs that naturally occur beneath the surface in and around Cornish granites. The government as earmarked lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country, and its use in electric cars makes it an important asset. So, the presence of metals in South Crofty that are in the vanguard of modern electronic technology creates a good chance that mining will resume.
Since being elected, I have prioritised economic regeneration. The East-West link road has played a crucial part in unlocking the potential of the derelict land around South Crofty. We have seen Pool transformed over the last four years with new businesses setting up at the Pool Innovation Centre, a makeover for the college and, of course, the completion of Heartlands. We are seeing new employment space opened up to attract new industries and better paid jobs. This latest news about the mine is good news for our area, and we have much to look forward to as we move forwards.