The Mystery of South Crofty

South Crofty, the mine so good that no-one ever asks difficult questions about whether or not there was ever a North Crofty. Yes it’s back in the news as the PR monkeys there have found another metal they can claim to be mining; Indium. And this time the mine will re-open and employ hundreds ‘within two years’.

But this isn’t the first time that Baseresult (or Western United Mines as they prefer to be called these days) have said they’ll be ‘open soon’. They said the same in 2001 when they brought the place, then again in 2003 they said after but a year’s worth of pumping out water they’d be good, come 2006 it was two and a half years. By 2007 a cunning name change and the involvement of Galena Asset Management (or as it’s also known Trafigura, a company with a… mixed background in such fields as Iraqi oil for food, unconventional Ivory Coast waste management and blowing up bits of Norway) had produced Western United Mines who would be ready in two years by 2009. By the time 2009 rolled around they’d cut that figure to but a mere 12-18 months and found Indium (presumably they subsequently lost it, but have just found it again so they can re-announce it). It was in 2010 when they first discovered the ‘Announce metal find’ wheeze and declared they’d found gold, which again they’d already known about but decided to re-announce as a PR trick.

In amongst all this has been ongoing mysteries over planning, pumping out the flooded mine, quite what happened to all that pumped out water, re-development plans, threats of compulsory purchase, EU ‘Objective One’ funding and the constant tension between the nostalgic locals who’d quite like a tin mine to re-open and all the second home owners who really, really wouldn’t.

About the only think I can say for sure is that it’s worked out well for the two chaps who founded Baseresult; Kevin Williams and David Stone. They were there in 2001 and they’re still there now.

At various points I’ve been convinced it’s a property deal based around re-developing the site into housing under cover of the mine, a cunning scheme to dump hi-risk waste into the old mine workings (not helped by a previous PR stunt  where the mine owners proposed using the site to store fly ash from power stations) or a bunch of deluded Cornishmen pursuing a dream in the face of all logic. Honestly it’s probably been a little of all of that at some point, though what it is now I’ve no idea.

However I will predict this; in two years time it will still be about two years away from full production, the fundamentals are just too unfavourable. Still it gives some old Cornish miners something to do and keeps the BBC website supplied with stories, so it’s not a complete waste of time.

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