Construction has begun on the first new metal mine to be opened in the UK in 45 years. The Drakelands tungsten and tin mine is expected to produce up to 3,000 tonnes of metal per year from 2015 and boost the economy in the south-west.
Tungsten is a rare metal, almost as hard as a diamond, which is used to make incandescent light bulb filaments, X-ray tubes and radiation shielding. While China holds the largest reserves in the world, the mine near Plympton in Devon is estimated to be the fourth-largest deposit.
The mine, which will cost around £130m to build, is expected to produce 3,000 tonnes of tungsten and tin per year and create local jobs in the area. Contracts from around £100,000 to £3m have been awarded to companies in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset for equipment and consultancy.
Charlotte Wilkins, from Australian owners Wolf Minerals, said, “The people here are largely local; we have a lot of people from Plymouth.
“Some of the skills involved in a project like this, the base isn’t in this country. But the vast majority, especially the trades, are here.”
Gary Streeter, Conservative MP for south-west Devon said there had not been much opposition to the project.
“This part of Dartmoor has been mined for well over 100 years and the local community is aware of that – in fact, the local community is here because of that,” he added.
“While there have been some concerns about the environment, the overwhelming reaction from the local community was that we want the investment; we want the jobs.”
Photo: Bristol PCD project via Twitter