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Friday, March 6, 1998 Published at 08:05 GMT


Silent vigil for Europe's last tin mine
image: [ South Crofty is Cornwall's last working link to 4,000 years of history ]
South Crofty is Cornwall's last working link to 4,000 years of history

Europe's last tin mine, Cornwall's South Crofty pit, is closing a month after the government refused to help fund a multi-million pound rescue package.

But there is a ray of hope for the 166 miners at the 300-year-old pit after the European Commission pledged £1m to help create new jobs in the area.

The closure brings to an end Cornwall's last working link to tin mining. Ancient tribes discovered how to use the metal in the region up to 4,000 years ago.

The South Crofty community had hoped that a UK mining company would have put forward an 11th hour bid to save the 2,600ft-deep mine, near Redruth.

But Friday's shifts will be the last at the pit when ore will be prepared and hoisted to the surface.

The pumps which kept the mine dry will be turned off in a week's time after equipment and machinery is brought to the surface.

[ image: South Crofty Holdings will continue to exist]
South Crofty Holdings will continue to exist
As soon as the pumps are turned off, the 150 miles of tunnels and shafts will begin to flood, taking up to three years to completely submerge.

Miners and their families are planning to hold a silent vigil outside the pit at the end of the final shift and they will later hold a 'wake' for Cornwall's mining heritage.

The service will include bands from nearby towns, and the organisers hope it will become an annual event.

The present managing director of the mine, David Giddings, has bought all the shares in the company, thought to be worth £170,000, from the Canadian owners.

He said that he hoped to keep about 30 staff to work in other areas of the business - but there was no possibility of the mine reopening.

Aid hope from the US

While the government declines to bail out the mine and Europe offers to put up money to help the South Crofty community, areas of the US with Cornish roots are trying to raise $25m (£15.1m) in aid.

Many towns such as Flushing, Michigan, were partly built on the mining wealth of Cornish settlers.

Their descendants are now repaying the debt by setting up Cornish heritage groups to raise awareness of the plight of the former tin mine communities.

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05 Feb 98†|†UK
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Internet Links

South Crofty Holdings Ltd

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Cornish mining history

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