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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Diggers move in at tin mine
South Crofty tunnel
Ex-miners witnessed South Crofty's reopening
A ceremony has been held underground to mark the reopening of Cornwall's last working tin mine.

Former miners, engineers and politicians were among the first to be allowed back into South Crofty mine on Monday.

Entry to the former workings was banned, except for essential maintenance, after the mine closed three years ago.

Earlier this month the mines inspectorate gave clearance for a new company, Baseresult Holdings Ltd, to begin extracting ore once again.

Two hundred miners lost their jobs when it shut.

Very soon you will start to see pumps coming in and mining starting

Kevin Williams, mine director
The guests were taken 300 metres into the mine along a tunnel that must be extended by more than a kilometre under the terms agreed by the mines inspectorate.

They stopped when they reached water that has flooded much of the workings.

The party was led into the mine by Kevin Williams, a former manager at Geevor mine who set up Baseresult with fellow director David Stone.

The company believes a new technique called "shrink mining" can make South Crofty viable again.

Mr Williams said the mine should be in production by the summer of 2003.

South Crofty gates
The gates opened for the first time in three years
Mr Williams told the BBC: "Although over the next few weeks very little will happen, very soon you will start to see pumps coming in and mining starting."

South Crofty, near Camborne and Redruth in west Cornwall, was the last working tin mine in Europe until it closed in 1998.

The closure was forced by falling world tin prices - which have since dropped even further.

Cornwall's 4,000-year-old tin industry employed more than 20,000 people in the 19th century.

Many people in Cornwall are believed to be keen to see a part of Cornish heritage revived at South Crofty.

See also:

04 Sep 01 | Business
Tin mine cleared to re-open
02 Mar 01 | Business
Last UK tin mine reopens
27 Jan 00 | Business
Cornwall's last chance
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