Good Growth Programme backs Cornish metal mining with £4.7m investment

South Crofty - hoisting feasibility study (resized) (1)

Ambitions to make Cornwall a world-class region for tech metal mining have received a major boost with a £4.7m investment from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Good Growth Programme.

The strategic investment will accelerate Cornwall’s goal to be a major environmentally sustainable producer of critical minerals such as lithium, tin and tungsten, unlocking potentially thousands of jobs.

The Government has identified Cornwall’s resources as nationally important to the UK’s future green growth and for a raft of industries, from car making to electronics and defence.

Research shows that Cornwall alone could meet more than half the UK’s 2030 demand for lithium, which is an essential part of the electric vehicle battery supply chain. 

And in December Cornwall was named the ‘Most Improved Mining Jurisdiction of the Year’ at the world’s most prestigious mining awards, beating competition from Egypt, Namibia, and Saudi Arabia. Cornish company, Cornish Lithium, was named Exploration Discovery of the Year winner at the same awards, run by the Resourcing Tomorrow mining conference.

Cllr Louis Gardner, portfolio holder for economy at Cornwall Council, which manages the Good Growth Programme, said: “We’re investing in this sector because it will speed up Cornwall’s emerging critical minerals industry and help underpin the supply chains that are going to be essential to the UK’s net zero transition.

“Cornwall’s minerals resources have been singled out by Government as nationally important to providing a secure supply, delivering economic growth and tackling the climate emergency. This strategic investment is among several that the Good Growth Programme is making in our emerging sectors.”

The investment has been welcomed by the Cornwall Mining Alliance, which has some 130 members, with about 70 connected directly to technology metals. 

Jean Taylor MBE, part of the Cornwall Mining Alliance steering committee, said: “This strategic investment in Cornwall’s mining sector will accelerate its development and help unlock its enormous potential in an environmentally sustainable way. With millions of pounds poised to be invested in a number of exploration projects in Cornwall and the wider region, it is vital that we have the right infrastructure and skills in place.” 

The Good Growth investment will support three mining-related projects. They are: 

  • A critical minerals processing and testing equipment hub available to the exploration industry across Cornwall and beyond. Unique in the UK, the high-tech equipment network is a collaboration between the renowned Camborne School of Mines and Cornwall-based mineral processing company GSL (Grinding Solutions Limited). The £4.55m project is being supported with £3.62m of investment from the Good Growth Programme. The hub will include green mineral processing equipment to drive research and innovation around low-impact, low-carbon metal extraction, and aims to create a new generation of mineral processing experts whose knowledge can be exported around the world.
  • A £909,672 Good Growth investment to establish a geo-resources cluster development body that can co-ordinate the sustainable growth of the sector. Led by the University of Exeter and co-funded with £50,000 from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, the aim is to make Cornwall a global leader in sustainable and responsible geo-resources management. It will include a focus on workforce development with up-skilling and re-skilling, collaborative working to boost productivity, strategic infrastructure planning and identifying green growth opportunities.
  • A £192,000 SPF investment to support the planned reopening of South Crofty tin mine, Cornwall’s last working tin mine which closed in 1998. Cornish Metals has raised £40m to dewater the mine and says Crofty has the fourth highest grade of undeveloped tin resource globally and is viewed as a strategic tin asset in the UK. The Good Growth investment, which is being matched by Cornish metals, will fund feasibility studies looking at the most environmentally friendly hoisting options for ore and the best location for planned new offices and workshops, supporting 300 news jobs. The studies will also look at how South Crofty could be a net zero facility including the use of solar power and recovering heat from mine water.

The £4.7m total investment in Cornwall’s mining sector by the Good Growth Programme is funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF). Cornwall has been allocated £132m of SPF funding over three years with investment decisions taken at local level and with a focus on green and inclusive growth.

To find out more about the Good Growth Programme and the projects it is supporting in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, visit the Good Growth website.