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Q&A Session 5 - Cornwall Resources - Tin/ Tungsten/ Copper

Welcome to our 5th Q&A with Cornwall Resources, a Tin/ Tungsten/ Copper deposit in Redmoor, Cornwall. We'll be hearing from Brett Grist, Exploration Manager, and Jeff Harrison, Community Consultant about:

  • Cornwall Resources' exploration & opportunities for mining in the UK's South West

  • Community engagement & UK environmental standards

  • Challenges to mining in the UK & ideas to catalyse the sector's development

  • Advantages of further UK mineral exploration

1) CMA: Tell us about Cornwall Resources and your work to date

Brett/ Jeff: Cornwall Resources Limited (CRL) is a British company working to deliver a world-class tin-tungsten-copper project, the Redmoor project, in east Cornwall, UK. We are a subsidiary of UK-listed Strategic Minerals (SML).

Mining in the region has a long history, from Roman times through to the recent past. At one point the area was responsible for 80% of global copper supply. Mining at Redmoor continued until 1943, and modern mineral exploration work was carried out in the 1980s.

Following on from this earlier historical work, CRL commenced active exploration at Redmoor in January 2017. Over 14,000m of diamond core have been drilled so far, at a cost of over £2 million, which, added to previous data, has led to the definition of a significant, and world-class underground mineral resource for tin, tungsten, and copper. Our team are presently engaged in work to further advance the project towards eventual development.

2) CMA: What is the further exploration potential for Redmoor, and generally for tin/ tungsten in the South West?

Brett/ Jeff: The Redmoor resource, of over 11.7 million tonnes at a tin equivalent grade of 1.17%, is of a globally significant scale and grade. We have established this with only three years of work, and the orebody still remains open at depth and to the west. This means that the ultimate deposit size could be significantly larger, making it a very consequential deposit.

One of the lesser known paradoxes of exploration in the South West and particularly Cornwall, is that the area is one of the most heavily mined but least explored parts of the world. The region has a rich metal endowment for tin, tungsten, copper and more, which could be rapidly identified by applying modern exploration techniques and concepts, supported by the UK’s strong knowledge in this sector.

3) CMA: How is mining perceived by the local communities you've engaged with?

Brett/ Jeff: Before we commenced any work we held a series of public meetings with the local community. These were well attended, reflecting the interest in our work. We explained our plans and took questions. Through this we were able to ensure that we understood local concerns, so that these could be mitigated from the start. We also set up clear communication routes so that if, for example, someone had a problem during drilling, we could resolve this rapidly. Catching an issue early can avoid it becoming a greater challenge later on.

We continually try to maximise the use of local goods and services and to encourage contractors to recruit locally. Whilst we are not yet in production, we believe that getting this right provides a clear statement of our longer-term intent. As a result of the above measures, and the long mining heritage of the region, the community is better informed and more supportive of mining. However, we and other companies in the region should not take this for granted, and must continue to view community engagement as a long term essential area to focus efforts on, in order to achieve a meaningful ‘social licence to operate’.

4) CMA: How can the development of mineral resources in the South West add value to local economies?

Brett/ Jeff: Development of mineral resources, if conducted in the right way, has the potential to create a substantial number of well-paid jobs, to increase demand for local goods and services, and to stimulate development. Mining typically has a multiplier effect of 3:1; thus a typical mine which might employ 200 people, could have a very significant local employment effect, in what may be economically challenged localities.

Importantly this can enable locals to find employment in their hometown and stay where they have grown up, instead of moving away for career opportunities. This helps keep talent in the region. The team employed by CRL, many of whom have links to the South West, feel privileged to have the relatively unique opportunity to work on a mining project in the UK.

5) CMA: What challenges are faced by mining companies in the South West?

Brett/ Jeff: In the UK, the rights to most metals are generally held in private ownership, often relating to historic manorial ownership rather than by the state. This means that determining who has the mineral rights to an area can be a lengthy process, as these rights are often not registered. This impacts on property development as well as mining for a project.

This is anomalous in a global context and puts the UK at a competitive disadvantage. Ireland, which had a similar system in the past, carried out a reform to its mineral rights system, which has now resulted in a robust mining sector. The direct, indirect, and induced impacts have been estimated at around €810 million per year[1].

At present there is no ministry or ‘one stop shop’ that has responsibility for the mining sector. Establishing such an authority would be helpful in ensuring projects can be developed rapidly, and in facilitating communication with the related authorities.

6) CMA: What regulations are in place in the UK to ensure that minerals will be responsibly mined and meet environmental standards?

Brett/ Jeff: The UK is in a strong position to meet society’s growing desire for cleanly sourced responsibly mined raw materials. We are fortunate to have high standards for safety in mining through the Mines Inspectorate of the HSE, operating through the Mines and Quarries Act and Mines Regulations (2014). The Environment Agency engage pro-actively with operators and a variety of permits are required before mining and processing can commence in order to minimise the impact on the environment. Comprehensive monitoring and reporting need to be in place, to ensure that operations are to a high standard and no unauthorised discharges or emissions are made. At a local level, planning permission is normally required for any mining development, and on grant will typically include a range of conditions and a system for ongoing verification of compliance, including monitoring by Environmental Health officers as appropriate.

In addition, to meet societal expectations, companies are increasingly prescient of issues around climate change, minimising impacts, and resource conservation. In the South West we are fortunate to have high grade ores, which on a per tonne of metal produced basis, can be produced with a fraction of the CO2 impact of ‘typical’ ores elsewhere in the world.

7) CMA: What are the advantages of wider mineral exploration in the UK? How can we encourage this?

Brett/ Jeff: Wider mineral exploration and development of mines will have a significant positive impact at a national level. A single small to medium sized mine may generate export earnings of over £70 million per year, and result in significant employment creation, with consequent appreciable income and corporation tax takes.

At a time of increasing global competition for resources, and to meet demand for raw materials such as for the electric vehicle revolution, development of a renewed UK mining sector is of critical strategic importance.

Five key points that would catalyse development of the sector, and which have been proven successful overseas would include:

  1. Provision of grant funding for exploration programs on a matched funding basis, in return for sharing of exploration results, as occurred under the programs of the 1980s.

  2. Reformation of the mineral licensing system by requiring registration of all mineral rights, following which by default, all unregistered areas should default to the Crown as a new licensing authority.

  3. Establishment of a central ‘one stop shop’ to facilitate exploration and mining in the UK.

  4. Reduction in the number of costly conditions that are set when granting planning permission; other industries receive incentives from local and national government to set up their businesses, however mining companies are often required to pay for infrastructure, such as roads, and areas which may not relate to their business.

  5. Encouraging the development of a practically skilled workforce through existing UK mining universities, to ensure maximum UK employment can be achieved.

7) CMA: Why did you decide to join the CMA?

Brett/ Jeff: Mining in the UK suffers from a lack of awareness and there is clearly scope to spotlight the progress being made – we believe the collective efforts of the CMA can assist in generating critical mass for the industry. This will lead to great investment opportunities being taken advantage of. We have achieved great exploration success already, however by working with others we believe this can be extended. We in particular value the opportunity to work with our peers to engage with government. By doing so we can ensure that the sector successfully regenerates to meet new opportunities around the battery revolution, and provides a strategic supply of metals to reduce reliance on international supply.

Thanks Brett & Jeff!

Find out more about Cornwall Resources here:

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