Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Hemerdon Tungsten Mine & Crownhill Down

WITC notes news breaking just South of Dartmoor this week:  Australian mining firm Wolf Minerals have confirmed they have successfully secured funding to start work on the £130 million Tungsten project at Hemerdon Mine.  The mine lies close to  Dartmoor Zoo, South of Crownhill Tor and Lee Moor.  Though the story is hardly a surprise, and even the relief road has been completed in expectation of this news.  

The villagers of Hemerdon have also been waiting a long time for this news. Wolf Minerals first stated their intentions nearly 30 years ago! The village lies in an area of Devon - a region of Britain - with a long history of mining. Hemerdon Tungsten Mine originally opened in the early 20th century, and after closing after WW2, the area was subject to further exploratory work in the 1950s and 1980s.

Crownhill Down looking South and North, towards Penn Beacon 
The mine is now expected to commence extraction of tin and tungsten in 2015. Demand for tungsten  is rising, and supplies are becoming limited to more and more difficult locations, mainly in China. The rare metal's unique properties make it essential in the manufacture of everything from cruise missiles to drill bits.  Estimates stand that approximately 3500 tonnes of tungsten could be extracted in the next 2 decades from the Hemerdon Ball site.

The planning permission sought by the mining company included the following elements:

• an open pit of eventual dimensions 36 ha in area by 200m in depth
• a plant area of 29.4ha
• tipping of approximately 100 million tonnes of mining waste over 175 ha of Crownhill Down

Thats nearly 2 sq km of spoil heap on the open moorland.  Such a shame considering the wealth of historic monuments and ancient artifacts in the area.  Hut circles, boundary stones and field systems.  There may not be many letterboxes (although a visit just before the last Meet confirms there are some), but it is a shame, and a concern, that lacking National Park protection will cost us this open space.



Jill said...

That's going to mean a lot more traffic chaos in that are then!

Nik - KOTM said...

Quarrying aside, open cast mining has to be the most destructive method of getting minerals out of the ground. A 2k Spoil heap is just as destructive as a hole in the ground. This will produce a massive eyesore as bad as the hole in the ground... All for the sake of some money