The Past Could Be the Key to the Future of British Mining

In Dust Control, Mine & Quarry, Soil-Sement® by Jim Silva

After lying dormant for decades, the United Kingdom’s historic tin mines have new life — thanks to a spike in demand for cutting-edge technologies.

In 1998, the last of the UK’s once-numerous tin mines closed. The industry’s decline was precipitated by years of falling demand and stagnant prices, but now, thanks to smartphones, electric cars, and renewable energy projects, tin is making a shocking comeback.

Demand for tin, lithium, and other precious metals has skyrocketed in recent years, buoyed by the rise of the above-mentioned technologies that depend on them.

Throughout the world, mining companies have attempted to capitalize on this trend however they can, from launching new exploration projects to investing in metal recycling. The UK government, however, has discovered that its once-proud tin mines could actually be the key — proving once again that an old friend is worth its weight in gold (or tin).

Right Place, Right Time

As smart and automated technologies continue to transform the global economy, governments and businesses alike are jockeying for control of the raw materials that will fuel this next wave of innovation — and tin is one of these materials. Priced at only $5,000 per ton in 1998, Reuters reports that the same amount of this versatile metal is now worth around $20,000.

China has long dominated the tin market, but countries all across the European continent are now actively searching for inroads into this increasingly lucrative sector. Fortunately for the UK, it doesn’t have to look far, since one of the world’s largest tin deposits lies in and around Cornwall on the southwest coast of England.

The traditional home of tin mining in the UK, Cornwall has become a highly appealing location for investors, providing both a wealth of known deposits and an established infrastructure. Furthermore, research suggests that the area contains small quantities of tungsten, copper, and lithium — also all important components of modern electronics.

Seizing Opportunity

With such a valuable untapped asset on its shores, the British government is funding efforts to restore Cornwall’s tin mines, with a slew of foreign companies leading the first wave of investment. At the forefront are New Age Exploration and Wolf Minerals from Australia, as well as Canada’s Strongbow Exploration. Strongbow has taken on the largest project so far, seeking to raise $110 million to refurbish the enormous South Crofty mines.

Most of these worksites will require some repairs before operations can resume. The South Crofty mines, for example, won’t be ready for production until 2021.

With billions of dollars at stake, however, the British government isn’t sparing any expense. And in the years to come, that bet could pay off handsomely.

Safety First

With such a strong response to today’s economic demands, the UK is setting an example for countries around the world looking for a piece of the metal mining market. In order to fully capitalize on these rejuvenated mines, however, mining companies will need to make sure their operations are as safe and productive as possible. Crucial to achieving this goal is the deployment of an effective dust control strategy.

For decades, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. has helped mining companies around the world control dust emissions throughout their worksites. Our patented dust control product Soil-Sement® is an innovative sealant that fuses with the aggregate used in haul and access roads to form a sturdy and impenetrable surface that traps dust as soon as it’s generated. Certified by the world’s most prestigious environmental agencies, it enhances performance without putting your workers, infrastructure, or the surrounding environment at risk.

Regardless of your work site’s needs, Midwest can work with you to develop a customized application plan or managed service program that’s suited to your operation. On either side of the pond, Midwest is here to help miners take full advantage of the modern economy’s demand for precious metals.

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.