Last UK tin mine set to reopen

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EUROPE'S LAST tin mine, South Crofty in Cornwall, is set to be reopened next year by a mining entrepreneur, it was announced yesterday.

Wilf Hughes, managing director of Hughes Mining and Construction, yesterday disclosed that he had bought the mine for pounds 625,000 after agreeing a deal with David Giddings, South Crofty's managing director and major shareholder.

The 140-year-old mine, near Redruth, closed in March with the loss of 300 jobs after it had fallen victim to the collapsing world tin price. The final nail in the coffin had been the Government's refusal to support a pounds 12m rescue package.

News of the mine's reprieve will come as a psychological boost to Britain's poorest county where unemployment levels are well above average. Many local miners believed the closure of the mine, which is now flooded, was the final chapter in the county's mining history.

Mr Hughes said yesterday he was "confident" that the deal would go through and "put Cornish tin back in the world market". Speaking in Truro, he added: "We have studied the geology, we are changing working practices and we think we know we can make it a success."

Mr Hughes said he wanted to eventually reach previous levels of employment and said that around 25 men would be employed almost immediately.He estimated it could cost more than pounds 1m to pump out the 2,600ft mine which has flooded to a depth of around 800ft.

Mr Hughes, who is expecting contracts to be exchanged next week, said the deal should be completed by the end of March.

Candy Atherton, the Labour MP for Falmouth & Camborne who helped broker the deal, said yesterday: "If it comes off it will be absolutely wonderful."

Before the tin price collapsed in 1985, South Crofty employed 750 miners.