30 Apr 2012
Tungsten mine to re-open
The Hemerdon Mine — an open-pit site near Plympton, Devon — has been shut since the Second World War, despite some efforts in the 1980s to bring it back into use. However, the rising price of tungsten means that plans are under way to bring it back into production. Hemerdon’s deposit of tungsten is the fourth-largest in the world, according to the British Geological Survey. Managers at Wolf Minerals, the Australian group developing the mine, believe that it should be able to meet 3.5% of global demand.
“We are going to be one of the biggest producers of tungsten in the world,” said managing director Humphrey Hale. Wolf estimates that it will cost about £120 million to get the mine into production by 2014; it recently secured £55 million of this in loans from a consortium of banks.
Tungsten is best known to many as the filament used in conventional light bulbs. Its extreme hardness, high melting point and other qualities mean it is in demand for drill bits, tough coatings and other items.