back to article Rare metals found in Cornish tin mine

A Cornish tin mine hopes to be producing hundreds of kilos of valuable indium – used in iPads and other devices and costing up to £500 a kilo. The primary provider of the substance is Canada, where indium is associated with zinc mining. It used to be used for high performance metal bearings in aircraft but is now mostly used …


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  1. Evil Auditor

    Not enough information

    "Each kilo is worth about £500 and we estimate we will mine between 250,000 to 400,000 tonnes per year [of the raw ore used to produce indium] in the first phase."

    I guess 1 kilo(gramme?) of indium is worth 500 quid, not 1kg raw ore. But, how much Cornish ore is needed to produce 1 kg indium? Depending on the answer the £500 could be less attractive than it appears now...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was thinking the same thing

      Hundreds of kilos?

      999Kg x £500 = maximum turnover of half a million quid to mine "up to 400,000 tonnes" of ore?

      Someone has made a mistake somewhere.

    2. Mike Richards

      It's a byproduct

      The indium will be a byproduct of cassiterite mining. Tin will make or break the mine, and prices for that have rocketed of late, so the indium is very much the icing on the cake. It's a long time since I did the geology of South Crofty but they may also extract small amounts of copper, silver and tungsten alongside tin.

      1. Evil Auditor

        @Mike Richards

        Thanks for clarification.

      2. Spot the Cat

        @ Mike Richards

        And don't forget the arsenic - a little goes a long way.

        Pint cos it's twenty past five on Friday - no arsenic in mine, thank you.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Brandon Cord Bradshaw


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Dead Vulture


      drill holes, are powered hydraulically, and are under the precise control of computers.

      There's a subtle clue in the name.

  3. Anton Ivanov

    Where are the sludge pits, counting down one... two... three...

    The sludge pits and the dumps with the grit from the smelters should have a bountiful of this to extract. It may even be more economical than mining the remaining ore in the few remaining mines.

    It will be fun to watch the mad dash for "can I buy a 16th century slurry pit on the cheap" once the mining companies realise that.

    1. Mike Richards

      Wouldn't be the first time they went back to the tips

      During the late part of World War I many Cornish tips were mined for wolframite as Allied gunmakers tried to compete with the super-hard tungsten alloys being used in German guns. Cornish miners had known about wolframite for decades and loathed the stuff because it was hard to separate from cassiterite (tin oxide) and was impossible to smelt. So when they found it, they dumped it.

      But some of this is hardly news, silver and gold were regularly recovered from Cornish mines. Indium is news (if only because industrial uses only came along after the heyday of the mines) - but in retrospect not that surprising, it's much quicker to list the elements that can't be found in Cornish ores, AFAIK it is still the most mineralogically diverse region in the World.

      [Sighs fondly thinking of all those hazy summer days spent looking for uranium minerals]

  4. Anonymous Coward

    If only Slate used slate

    If Slate PCs used slate, then North Wales could revive the slate industry!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC 11:10

      Ah, but Cornish slate is much better quality, particularly from the Delabole mine.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ...and if Tablet PCs...

      used Tablets, maybe Pfizer wouldn't be closing down their Kent site?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't have a good ring to it...

    "There's indium in them thar hills!"


    1. Anonymous Coward

      What about the Cowboydiums?


  6. Paul_Murphy

    So - I guess the question would be.

    How much Iridium do they get from that quantity of ore? obviously it must be worth their while, and if they are mining it anyway (to get the tin I guess) then they may as well see what else is in there.

    Isn't Iridium an indicator metal for other metals? platinum?


    1. Anonymous Coward

      Read it more closely...

      Iridium is indeed one of the precious metals often found together, but in this case it's INDIUM not IRIDIUM...

      1. Paul_Murphy


        Thanks for the catch, should have engaged brain before posting (how many times am I going to end up saying that! <sigh>).


        1. Jedit Silver badge

          Commentard admits error

          Tomorrow's top Reg headline?

  7. Timothy Slade
    Paris Hilton

    cowboys and indiums?

    dunno. The mining corps will probably cowboy safety and environmental regs along the way.

  8. Neptunes Log

    Iridium metal price

    Iridium metal is worht about $900 per ounce... so a kilo would be worth around $31000.

    1. Tom Wood

      What's that to do with the price of fish?

      This is indium. Not iridium. Different elements...

    2. Evil Auditor

      @Neptunes Log

      A case if human OCR failure?

      1. rjmx

        Indium vs Iridium?

        Looks more like a kerning problem to me. Depending on your font, both words look might similar.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          IT Angle

          That's a keming

          keming. noun. The result of improper kerning.

          Not really relevant, but I just wanted to show my support for this new and little-used typography term.

        2. thecakeis(not)alie

          Kerning problem

          Should have used Comic Sans...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Big Brother

            How many...

            times can I vote that post down? It's not that I disagree with the post, or dislike the poster. It's just the guilty-by-association with Stan's Own Font.

  9. Scott Broukell

    Had to be said ....

    ... this will only encourage the cowboys and indiums :-)

  10. AceRimmer1980

    But there's a village of locals above the richest deposit

    We need to find a diplomatic solution.

    1. Bobby Omelette

      Yep ...

      ... and they're high-sixing all the way to the bank.

      1. Captain TickTock

        Duelling banjos...

        love it.

        You shur have got a purty mouth...

  11. Tony S

    It will available drekkly

    You'll probably find that it's not "in them thar hills" but instead in that big hole in the ground. Most of the mine is under the sea, so it floods, and requires constant pumping to drain it. They've been working on this for about a year, and still have another to go before they can really start to look at mining anything.

    For reference, you'll often hear the phrase "Cornishmen do it drekkly" - (Drekkly = "directly"). It's a bit like the Spanish word "Mañana" - only it doesn't convey quite the same sense of urgency!

    1. Tom Jasper

      Wheal Jane under the sea? Shirley Some Mistake

      Whilst true of Geevor (my first place of employement) and various other mines, Both South Crofty and Wheal Jane are firmly under land not sea... However, a lot of deposites ran to the sea in the form of waste water / sludge.

      This is a good link

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Ooh er Missus!

      Why did the Paris icon spring to mind when I read, "requires constant pumping to drain it"?

      I think I need to adjourn to the nearest hostelry as soon as!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    China secures rare minerals !

    The UK Government announced yesterday that it has sold all rights to Cornwall to the People's Republic of China.

    Under Junior Flunky for International Affairs, Milton Honkworthy-Moffert (DAM, WHooPS) announced in a press conference that all residents of Cornwall, were to have their British Citizenship revoked and would become "proud citizens the PRC".

    The Dutchess of Cornwall, and the Prince of Wales, are considering relocating to Devon.

    The position of Lands End, the most westerly point of the British Mainland is apparently also being renegotiated.

  13. James 5

    Surely that should be iNdium....

    ... if it's for the iPad !

    @ Symon: "What t'bloody hell's... hydraulic drills?"

    Most drill rigs are controlled and powered by hydraulics. Usually by someone standing there and pulling levers, turning knobs and being in control of the actual drilling process.

    Computer control may mean that computers control the entire process including adding the drill rods and performing the drilling. It could also mean that the drill rig is moved under computer control to each drill location (pre-programmed) in sequence to perform the aforementioned drilling.

    Strange that Wikipedia doesn't have any info on them (just checked) - they've been around since the early 1990's

  14. Peter Clarke 1

    In further news

    The Ooh Arrr A have been found to be selling Iridium on the black market to fund their fight for independance from the cruel Grockle oppressors.

    News just coming in- Cornish Pasties to be re-named Iridium Oggies

    1. Spot the Cat

      re In further news

      Emmit oppressors, boy, emmit oppressors.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    gold, protactinium and indium and gallium (inhale)

    And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium

    1. Chemist

      Great wit

      His songs were brilliant. "The Masochism Tango" was one of his ?and "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park"

  16. CABVolunteer

    South Crofty mine

    I wonder what the PR campaign by (Canadian-owned) Western Union Mines is up to. The last I heard about the plans for re-opening South Crofty was a BBC report two months ago that some of the sixty current employees (preparing for a restart of mineral extraction) would be made redundant in 2011 without saying why for "legal reasons". In the light of the kerfuffle over the planning applications and the competing plans for re-development of the Camborne-Pool-Redruth area, what's the reason for planting this story in the Daily Mail (and the Telegraph). Trying to convince a bunch of doubtful investors perhaps?

  17. Stuart Halliday


    Didn't they just discover an alternative cheaper material to indium for capacitive screens?

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