Only a stone’s throw from picturesque mountain climbing trails within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs Nationwide Park lies Scotland’s solely business gold mine.
The Cononish undertaking was embraced by the local people and championed by politicians – in addition to buyers who purchased shares in its London-listed proprietor Scotgold Assets.
However hopes that for many years to return it may produce gold to be exported or crafted into superb jewelry have been thrown into query after Scotgold final week warned it may crash into administration.
Near the Arrochar Alps within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs Nationwide Park lies Scotland’s solely business goldmine
The warning was not the one information to rock the mining business final week.
Councillors turned down a proposal to increase operations at Wales’ final opencast coal mine, Glan Lash in Carmarthenshire. And, individually, a slew of main insurance coverage companies dominated out offering cowl to the controversial deliberate coal mine in West Cumbria.
From these headlines, it could look as if the sector is in disaster.
So what has gone fallacious – and is it nonetheless value having a UK mining business in any respect?
Mining within the British Isles has a wealthy heritage and dates again to the Bronze Age greater than 4,000 years in the past.
Later, Romans flocked right here for lead and copper.
Within the South West, Devon and Cornwall had a number of the richest copper and tin reserves on Earth throughout the 18th and early nineteenth centuries.
The Cornish business was memorialised by the creator Winston Graham in his Poldark novels, which he started writing within the Nineteen Forties.
The books adopted Ross Poldark, whose household made its fortune at fictional native copper mines, within the late 18th and early nineteenth century. The novels have been tailored right into a massively profitable TV collection starring Aidan Turner.
When most peculiar individuals consider mining within the UK, nonetheless, they consider coalfields throughout the nation that have been a driving drive within the industrial revolution.
Coal manufacturing peaked within the Nineteen Eighties. However the mining sector is now attempting to re-invent itself as a driving drive within the inexperienced industrial revolution.
It has additionally change into, at the very least within the eyes of some politicians, a safety concern in a lot the identical method that power did when Russia invaded Ukraine and despatched fuel costs hovering.
A spotlight now could be on securing entry to so-called ‘important’ minerals.
The Division for Enterprise and Commerce describes a important minerals technique printed final yr as bettering ‘the resilience of our important provide chains’, safeguarding business, rising confidence within the UK’s power transition and defending nationwide safety.
A collection of mined metals together with lithium and tin are seen as essential to Britain’s efforts to go inexperienced and will additionally present uncooked supplies for native manufacturing of things similar to automotive batteries.
The Cornish business was memorialised by the creator Winston Graham in his Poldark novels, just lately become successful TV collection starring Aidan Turner
‘Most individuals within the UK have grown a conscience over their meals, however nobody has a conscience about their metals at the moment,’ says James McFarlane, common supervisor at consultancy Mining Plus.
‘Folks perceive blood diamonds nevertheless it’s not simply how they’re mined from a human rights perspective however from an environmental perspective too.’
Final month the UK Infrastructure Financial institution invested £24 million in personal firm Cornish Lithium to assist extract the battery metallic.
John Meyer, head of analysis at SP Angel, added that though main institutional buyers are much less prone to again small British mining firms, they’ve been ‘changed by a brand new breed of fast-growing and extra skilled managers’.
These embrace Sir Mick Davis, the previous Xstrata boss whose Imaginative and prescient Blue fund has additionally invested in Cornish Lithium, and one other investor, referred to as Techmet, run by Brian Menell.
Jeremy Wrathall, founding father of Cornish Lithium, added: ‘In Cornwall, the business is booming. We’re growing a repository of the important metals which can be wanted for the power transition.
‘The important thing factor right here is the safety of provide in addition to the creation of recent jobs and constructing pleasure in Cornwall. Mining provides the UK a big addition to the worth of its financial system – each tonne which is mined is a tonne that’s not imported, each job we create is a job that’s not exported.’
Britain’s geology, McFarlane explains, is just not the issue: ‘We’ve received nice rocks and plenty of them.’ In his view, the largest hurdle now could be scaling the numerous small ventures that always wrestle to lift the large funds wanted to get a undertaking up and operating.
Traders in Sirius Minerals keep in mind this all too nicely.
The corporate, which at its peak had round 85,000 particular person buyers, nearly went bust because it tried to construct a sprawling fertiliser mine underneath the North York Moors Nationwide Park.
Sirius was bailed out by mining large Anglo American, which has renamed it the Woodsmith Undertaking.
Pure potash fertiliser is one other important materials that might be wanted to develop meals for the world’s rising inhabitants.
For all of the number of mining within the UK, it appears as if it’s initiatives that target the longer term, quite than simply reminiscent of the previous, that may proceed to draw essentially the most help.
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