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Cornish tin to form part of Olympic medal

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 15, 2012

Miner

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Cornwall's mining heritage will play its part in the world's greatest sporting event.

Tin mined and smelted in the county is being used to create the bronze medals for this summer's Olympic Games in London.

The tin was mined at South Crofty 14 years ago and smelted at Wheal Jane, near Redruth. It had been stored at Wheal Jane since the South Crofty mine closure in 1998 and was thought to be the only candidate to match the incredibly high levels of purity needed for medals that will grace the necks of the world's finest athletes.

Clifford Rice, director at Wheal Jane, said: "It was an emotional time when the mine shut down. To think that some of the tin produced would end up as part of the Olympics – it would have been impossible to comprehend. It was particularly poignant for me because I was underground at South Crofty two days before the mine shut."

Mr Rice previously worked at South Crofty as a lab technician before going to work at Wheal Jane. It took an almost Olympian effort to get the tin to the required purity of more than 99.9 per cent, with it being smelted again and again to eliminate any impurities.

A spokesman from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) said the bronze medal was made up of 97 per cent copper, 2.5 per cent zinc and 0.5 per cent tin.

The spokesman said: "The precious ore for the medals is supplied by London 2012 sponsor Rio Tinto and is mined at Rio Tinto's Kennecott Utah Copper Mine near Salt Lake City in America, as well as from the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia. For the small amount of non-precious elements that make up the bronze medals, the zinc has been sourced from a mine in Australia as well as from recycled stock, while the tin originates from a mine in Cornwall."

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  • rhenryhall  |  March 16 2012, 8:59PM

    @sandyshaw the precious ore mentioned is the gold/silver ore, Kennecott's ore body, in common with many copper deposits, hosts both. Obviously copper is not classed as precious

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  • sandyshaw  |  March 16 2012, 1:20PM

    "The spokesman said: "The precious ore for the medals is supplied by London 2012 sponsor Rio Tinto and is mined at Rio Tinto's Kennecott Utah Copper Mine near Salt Lake City in America, as well as from the Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia. For the small amount of non-precious elements that make up the bronze medals, the zinc has been sourced from a mine in Australia as well as from recycled stock, while the tin originates from a mine in Cornwall." Tin is $10.6/lb Zinc is $0.94/lb Copper is $3.8/lb Looking at the prices Copper is not the precious one but TIn is?

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