Boris Johnson gave mining a prominent namecheck in his recent announcement about the upcoming G7 meeting this year, which Britain will host.
Although last year’s G7 meeting went online because of the coronavirus, this year the leaders of the world’s leading industrial nations, plus heads of state from South Korea, India and Australia, are expected to meet up in person at the Carbis Bay resort in Cornwall.
“Two hundred years ago Cornwall’s tin and copper mines were at the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution, and this summer Cornwall will again be the nucleus of great global change and advancement,” Johnson said.
In the context of a swathe of recent announcements from the local mining sector, though, it only takes a small leap of faith to joint the mining industry past that Johnson invokes to the global change and advancement that he’s aspiring for.
Most promising, perhaps was the announcement from Cornish Lithium that it has produced, in conjunction with partners Wardell Armstrong and the Natural History Museum its first lithium carbonate from the Trelavour project.
The significance of that announcement can’t be understated. That Cornish Lithium has gone from concept to product in double quick time is in a sense by-the-by, although it speaks well of a can-do attitude that Britain is going to need in the post-Brexit years. More to the point, though, is the potential it reveals for Britain to provide the raw materials for its own electric vehicle revolution.
Will lithium in Cornwall turn out to be the North Sea oil of the 2020s? If the comparison isn’t quite precise, it’s certainly instructive.
Meanwhile, other companies are working at some scale to bring Cornwall back in to the ranks of the world’s recognised mining destinations. Cornish Metals (CVE:CUSN) earlier this month announced its attention to seek a second listing on the UK’s Aim market as it continues in its endeavour to bring the famous South Crofty tin mine back into production.
South Crofty last produced in the 1990s, and doesn’t quite date back all of those 200 years that Boris Johnson was talking about, but its resurrection does seem to indicate that there’s life in the old Cornish dog yet.
Other explorers have been sniffing about Cornwall too. One or two lithium prospectors are knocking around, even though it looks as though Cornish Lithium has locked up most of the best ground. But there’s also Strategic Minerals (LON:SML), which has significant showings of tin and tungsten at the Redmoor project near the Cornish town of Callington.
Less than 50 kilometres away to the east, over the border in Devon, is the Drakelands mine, mismanaged by Wolf, but now being brought back to life by a consortium that includes Baker Steel Resources Trust (LON:BSRT) amongst its partners.
So once again, inward investment is flowing into Cornwall, while influence is flowing out. Cornwall remains one of the most deprived regions in the UK, but there are grounds for hope with the resurgence of the old industries and the renewal of old skillsets.
Boris Johnson bringing the leaders of the industrialised world together on Cornish soil will no doubt be a temporary shot in the arm for the local economy, and present an opportunity for local businesses to sign banner deals.
But it’ll be the longer-term work put in by the likes of Cornish Lithium and Strategic Minerals that will make a deep and lasting impact.