Jobs at risk as Crofty tin mine in Cornwall goes into adminstration
Cornwall's last tin mine, which had been on the verge of producing metals and minerals once again, was yesterday placed in administration with the threat of jobs losses.
Owner Western United Mines (WUM) said a number of employees will be made redundant while the company will move to a "care and maintenance basis".
Earlier this month Canadian stakeholder Celeste Mining Corporation announced it was to pull its investment in South Crofty at Pool, near Redruth, because of higher than anticipated costs, concerns and "operational complexities".
This failure to fund expenditures in accordance with their contractual obligations, according to WUM's chief executive officer Alan Shoesmith, left South Crofty with no other option than taking the "preservation step" of appointing David Tann, John Kirkpatrick and Keith Stevens of Wilkins Kennedy LLP as administrators while the firm continued seeking alternative investment.
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Mr Shoesmith said: "Celeste's failure to meet its financial responsibilities has been a major blow for us in terms of being able to continue with the exploration and development work that has been yielding such hugely positive results.
"We have faced endless challenges since buying the mine in 2001 – the most recent being UNESCO's highly publicised objections to mining operations taking place within Cornwall's World Heritage Site. Each of the battles we have fought has had a considerable impact on our financial resources and on our attractiveness as an investment opportunity but, through it all, we have remained confident and optimistic about the huge potential that South Crofty has to offer.
"That optimism and confidence has not been diminished. We have appointed an administrator to protect the mine while we stop to take breath and consolidate our position.
"A number of employees will be made redundant whilst we move to a care and maintenance basis, however we still have production and economic revival firmly in our sights."
George Eustice, Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, said he hoped the administrators would find a way to "move forward as a going concern".
"There is huge potential and work there shows there are resources of £3billion to £4billion," he added.
Mr Shoesmith said the company aims to reform and obtain new finance.
He added: "Judging by the interest being shown, we are very hopeful that we can ultimately finish the job started twelve years ago and get the mine back into production."
Mr Shoesmith added that in the last year analysis of historical sampling data has identified exploration targets of between eight and 16 million tonnes of ore at depth at grades between 1.2 and 1.8% tin, in addition to substantial polymetallic resources closer to surface.
The company is now reassessing the data and will shortly be restating the project's resource base.
Mr Shoesmith said he expects to secure investment to unlock the mine's potential.