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Thursday, February 5, 1998 Published at 19:49 GMT


Cornwall's last tin mine to close
image: [ South Crofty miners are victims of falling tin prices ]
South Crofty miners are victims of falling tin prices

The South Crofty tin mine near Redruth in Cornwall is to close with the loss of around 200 jobs after the government decided not to contribute £4.7m towards a total rescue package of £12m.

The decision on the fate of the 300-year-old mine - the oldest in Europe - was announced in the Commons by the Trade Minister, Barbara Roche.

She said the government regretted it was not able to contribute public money to a project which was "clearly not viable."

The decision was criticised by the Liberal Democrat MP for Truro in Cornwall, Matthew Taylor, who called for a package of measures to create new jobs in the area.

The announcement ends years of uncertainty for miners and the local community.

Tim Pellow, a miner, said after emerging from a shift: "We are glad it is all over one way or the other. It was like a mortuary down there."

Another miner, Peter May, said the prospects of finding work in the area were zero.

"This is going to hit family life a lot", he said.

A loss-making enterprise

The mine has been losing money because of a collapse in the price of tin, and competition from mines in South America and China.

The Managing Director, David Giddings, said the mine had lost £33m over the last 10 years.

When the gates close on March 6, it will mean the end of the Cornwall's 4,000-year-old tin industry.

The closure will cost the economy of west Cornwall an estimated £2.5m.

The tin mining industry once employed tens of thousands of people in the county.

Campaign to save the mine

The prospect of closure sparked off a county-wide effort by miners, the local community, politicians and the company itself to save the mine.

The government was petitioned and commemorative medals made from South Crofty tin were struck and sold to raise cash.

Proposals put forward by the company included deepening the mine to improve its efficiency and burning waste oil to cut operating costs.

At the end of January, a "One in a Million" campaign, aimed at raising £1 from everyone in Cornwall to help save the mine, was launched by youngsters from a primary school near the pit.

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22 Jan 98 | Business
Date set for closure of last European tin mine

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