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Mining was first carried out at the site in Hemerdon, Devon between 1919 and 1920, restarting again in 1934 and permanently closing in 1944. More than 60 years on since the closure, Australian company Wolf Minerals are reopening the tungsten mine. Tungsten was first found at the site in 1867, and Hemerdon is ranked as the 4th largest tungsten mine in the world.
The project is important to both the local area and the tungsten industry. Rising demands from China and India increase the need for the mine to reopen, and will create almost 500 jobs in mining and construction. This will increase the wealth in the community, and raise the available tungsten supplies from the UK.
Tungsten is highly ranked by the British Geological Society and the EU's critical raw materials lists, and the Hemerdon mine has an estimated production of 3,000 tonnes of tungsten per year. The unique properties of the element are impossible to replace, and many industrial applications rely on tungsten to function. For example, tungsten is used as an alloy in a variety of tool and alloy steels used in the construction sector. As a metal, it is found in electrical applications, and light bulb filaments are still a large market despite the introduction of the new longer life bulbs.
Contractors are now in a position to build a link road to the Hemerdon site, and the first tungsten should be processed by late 2013. Locals have had mixed feelings about the reopening of the site, as bore holes and test pits threatened to damage the countryside and environment. However the Devon Country Council and English Heritage accepted Wolf Minerals' archaeological plan in 2007.
Discussions are continuing with potential partners to help with the debt incurred by the project, and in late 2011, three banks (UniCredit Bank, ING Bank and Caterpillar Financial) agreed to payout £55 million of senior debt. The project is set to run for 10 years in guidance with the approximate mine life, but this could be extended for a further 4 years if required. The intention is to develop a large-scale project consisting of an open pit capable of mining both tungsten and tin.
Recent news indicates that the UK Government is now backing the tungsten mine at Hemerdon, Devon. The impact on the local economy and the ability to have a strong tungsten supply outside of China, are just two of the factors that won the governments approval.
William Rowland Ltd are tungsten and tin suppliers and we can supply metals in various forms across the globe, if you would like to find out how we can meet your requirements, please contact us using the Quick Enquiry Form on the right-hand side of this website.