Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Sunday, 18 May 2008 11:37 UK

Mines could reopen as prices soar

Former tin mine
Tin mines are part of Cornwall's historic landscape

Profitable metals mining could return in Cornwall and Devon amid huge price rises in the value of metals.

Demand from China and India has pushed the value of metals up - tin reached an all-time high last week of more than $25,000 (12,792) a tonne.

That is four times the value of tin when South Crofty mine near Camborne closed 10 years ago.

The mine's owners want to re-open it next year and there are plans to restart tungsten mining in Devon.

Rises 'meteoric'

Until recently mining was seen as part of the historic landscape of the West Country, but the increase in prices could change that, said Cornwall county councillor Mark Kaczmarek.

The former South Crofty miner told BBC News: "If the price stays high there is no question in my mind that other areas will be looked at.

"Whether it is tin, copper, zinc or lead, all metal prices have increased dramatically, but no more dramatically than tin."

The South Crofty workforce has recently gone up from 17 to 42 in preparation for the restart of mining at what was once Europe's largest tin mine.

Australian firm Wolf Minerals plans to restart production at Hemerdon tungsten and tin mine on the edge of Dartmoor and is increasing investment levels following encouraging test drilling results.

The firm hopes to create 500 jobs by restarting the open-cast mine near Plymouth and plans to keep mining tin and tungsten for 20 years.

Hemerdon is believed to be one of the world's biggest reserves of tin and tungsten and Wolf expects to produce about 3,000 tonnes of tungsten and tin per year.




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