The UK’s Crown Estate, the monarchy’s multibillion-pound portfolio of land holdings, has granted rights to early-stage mining company Cornish Tin to search for gold and silver across its Cornish land assets.
The Crown Estate granted the British company exclusive exploration rights to mine for six years across two areas of Cornwall covering 123,447 acres, or 14% of the county’s total land mass.
Cornish Tin mines primarily for tin and lithium, both considered essential to energy transition technologies. However, a discovery of gold and silver deposits would bolster project economics.
Sally Norcross-Webb, Cornish Tin’s founder and chief executive, told the Financial Times (FT) that the decision is a “significant win as it completes the full suite of minerals we have the right to extract”.
Cornwall is steeped in millennia-old mining history. Centuries ago, the county was a global hub for the production of base metals, particularly copper, and tin. It also used to be the global centre for china clay mining in ceramics.
However, production and manufacturing in the region have dwindled in recent decades, spurred on by the decline in industry throughout the UK. Exploration by Cornish Tin is part of a wider push by larger companies such as Cornish Metals and Cornish Lithium to re-establish Cornwall as a significant mining jurisdiction as demand for critical materials increases in line with the energy transition.
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Still in its relative infancy, Cornish Tin has at least five years ahead before producing anything of substance. Norcross-Webb told the FT that granting the lease options by the Crown Estate showed how complicated the UK minerals rights system is.
“It is such a chaotic system in the UK on mineral rights. It is so different from the rest of the world,” she said. “Mineral rights are in private hands, and you can’t just go and apply for a licence.”