A Cornish company is to begin an investigation of underwater tin deposits to see if it is economically and environmentally viable to extract the mineral, writes WMN Business Editor Liz Parks .
With rising world minerals prices, Marine Minerals has secured permission from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to examine underwater tin deposits left by historic mining activities off the north coast of Cornwall.
The business, whose CEO is Mike Proudfoot, former manager of Wheal Jane tin mine, has stressed that the scheme is at an early stage but it has said that it could create well-paid jobs in the Duchy.
Marine tin deposits have been mined off the Cornwall coast in the past, most recently in the 1980s, but Marine Minerals believes that techniques such as dredging, which were used then, are not environmentally acceptable.
It is looking into alternatives including a method of filtering the sand at sea, with only the portion containing tin – less than 5% – being taken ashore and the remainder placed back in the seabed.
The company is also considering options for how and where the sand can be brought ashore for processing.
The MMO permission would see Marine Minerals extract around 40 core sand samples to gain an understanding of the characteristics of the mineral sand.
The work is expected to start in the near future but is subject to a suitable vessel being available and good weather.
A full environmental and social assessment research project, which is expected to run for a year, is also being initiated. Before any licence can be granted for the tin recovery work, a formal Environmental Impact Assessment will be submitted to the MMO.
Cornwall Council and the MMO will then consult with statutory consultees and the wider community.