Digging up 200 new jobs

Friday 21st March 2014 12:00 am
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The £123m operation to start mining tungsten and tin at Hemerdon near Sparkwell has been officially launched – bringing 200 new jobs with it.

When it is in full production the huge Drakelands Mine operation will be producing more than three per cent of the world's tungsten needs, boasting the third largest known deposits of tungsten in the world.

Mine bosses and local councillors joined together to carry out a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of work at the Hemerdon mine on Friday, March 14.

Trucks and diggers are already in action removing top-soil in preparation for construction of a £75million processing plant which will be a vital part of the mining operation.

And the Australian based company Wolf Minerals, could see the first tungsten out of the ground by the beginning of next year.

The amount of tungsten in the ground at Hemerdon is the third largest deposit in the world and once the mine is in full production it will be capable of producing 5,000 tonnes of tungsten concentrate a year – approximately 3.5 per cent of global forecast demand.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Wolf Minerals managing director, Russell Clark said: 'This afternoon is a result of many years of waiting and many years of hard work. This is the beginning of a new mine and 200 jobs.'

Around 100 construction workers are already on the site with the number likely to double when in full production by July 2015.

Mr Clark added: 'This is a very exciting moment for the project and one which puts us firmly on course to become the next globally significant producer of tungsten concentrate with production commencing in 2015.

'There is a huge amount of pride within the team for the work which has brought the project to this point and a determination to ensure we continue to hit our key milestones as we work to bring production on stream and create a valuable new industry for Devon and the UK.'

Mining began at Hemerdon more than 150 years ago but it ceased in 1944 except for a brief trial mine in the 1980s.

When complete the mine will feature an 850m x 450m open cast pit extending to a depth of 200m, together with a processing plant and integrated mine waste facility. Drakelands has a viable mine processing plan for 10 years with the opportunity to extend. The area will then be landscaped.

Initial site clearance and preparation works began in February and have included the building of new upgraded and re-routed bridleways to replace existing paths crossing the mine site.

Wolf Minerals will also shortly commence a major tree planting operation as part of an agreed package of mid- and long-term environmental measures which will see the eventual restoration of the mine site following production as a mix of heath and woodland.

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