NEWS UPDATE 20 May 2021
- In relation to our planned exploration drilling program, we are pleased to say that our ongoing work on protecting the natural environment of the Great Wheal Vor area is going well, with further studies being completed to develop our initial work on various relevant matters including ecology, environment, noise, and protection of wildlife and natural habitats. Once this work and information has been completed, we will, as noted in our previous News Update, submit our General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) notification to Cornwall Council, as the Mineral Planning Authority. The arrangements for the communication of information about the GPDO to local residents, Parish Council and the Great Wheal Vor Community and Environment Group (GWVCEG) remain the same as set out in our News Update of 30 April 2021. However, we would like to let you know that, due to the detailed nature of the ongoing work, it is likely that this notification will now be made in the second half of June 2021.
- We have decided on this timescale because we regard it as vitally important that our environmental and ecological methodologies are as detailed and comprehensive as possible. We are also keen to keep local residents informed as we go along. Hence this interim News Update, which sets out below some of the key points in relation to the planned exploration drilling program which may be of interest to residents.
- Some residents have asked why we have not yet held an open public meeting to explain our proposals face to face with them. Unfortunately this has not yet been possible because of the Covid pandemic and Government restrictions. Therefore we have, so far, communicated as effectively as possible by answering personally all the various communications made to us, participating in various Parish Council zoom calls, and participating in the public participation zoom meeting in February kindly hosted by Breage Parish Council. There will also be the forthcoming public zoom session on the subject of the GPDO, as mentioned in the previous News Update of 30 April 2021. If further zoom meetings are needed (because, for example, we run out of time in the first GPDO zoom meeting), other meetings can be held. We would like to hold an open public meeting, but only when it is safe and responsible to do so. Without pre-judging the appropriate timing of this, we would envisage a public meeting in the Autumn, once the main holiday season is over, subject to any Government guidelines which may be in place.
- The initial drilling program consists of 33 drill holes, all of which are diamond drilled. No pneumatic or percussive drilling is planned. These holes are all within the blacklined areas designated as the “2021 Exploration Area” as shown on the Plan
below. Details of the borehole locations have already been provided to the surface landowners on whose properties the drilling is planned. All drill holes will be properly sealed on completion of drilling and the drilling sites will be remediated within 28 days of the completion of drilling each hole. Approx 90% of the planned drill holes fall within the minerals safeguarding areas protected under the Cornwall Council Minerals Safeguarding Development Plan Document of December 2018: see Plan below.
- There will be very low levels of noise from the drill rigs, (which are small and quiet), and no drilling will take place within 50 metres of residences. All drill sites without exception will be screened by straw bales or equivalent measures, which operate as further noise mitigation and present a more “agricultural” appearance. We are committed to achieving a consistently quieter noise limit than the applicable British Standards.
- The drilling program will not affect Public Rights of Way, and operation of drill sites will be in strict compliance with Environmental legislation and Health and Safety legislation, to protect Public Safety.
- There will be little impact on traffic conditions – when drill rigs move between sites, using access points agreed by Cornwall Council, this will be timed outside busy school run times, and personnel with high visibility clothing will be present to manage this safely.
- We have been glad to accept all the recommendations of the initial Ecological Impact Assessment which we commissioned, including for example: relocating a number of drill holes and cancelling some drill holes, to further protect hedgerows, natural water features, wildlife (for example two drill holes have been relocated to be even further away from badger setts than the recommended limit), monitoring for the presence of any roosting bats, and many other ecological commitments. A second Ecological Impact Assessment is now underway, which takes account of these ecological and environmental protections.
- Although the planned drilling program of 33 holes will not involve the loss of any trees, we are committed to support the local natural environment and would like to offer to the local community at our cost 33 young trees of species native to Cornwall and supportive of wildlife. Our suggestion would be that the trees could be sited and planted in consultation with the Parish Council to further enhance in a small way the amenity of the area.
- As regards drilling operations, water is required during drilling, which is recycled, and consumption levels are not high. A water bowser or tank at the drill site will be filled with drinking water and this will be used for drilling operations. The water/mud used in drilling will be collected at the surface in tanks in a closed-circuit system. A small amount of waste (muds and drill cuttings) will be periodically removed from site to licenced waste disposal sites and the water recycled. Drilling therefore has no negative impact on the subsurface water quality. A monitoring program will be implemented during the drilling program including taking downhole water samples at the commencement of drilling each hole, and again after each hole has been completed, to provide data on the water composition before and after drilling. All our analysis and data as regards water quality will be available to the Environment Agency as the EA may wish.
- It is important to bear in mind that Cornish Tin is currently a research company, in that it will take years of research before any decision can be made on whether it could be viable to proceed to the production of minerals. If this were to be the case, there would need to be a full planning application to Cornwall Council, with rigorous permitting requirements of the Environment Agency and Cornwall Council, and many other constraints and risk assessments. At that stage all interested parties would have ample opportunity of making their views known. From the point of view of environmental protection, should the Project proceed to production, its potentially high grades of tin (resulting in less waste) are among the factors which give this group of former producing mines an excellent chance of operating with a net zero carbon footprint, powered by sustainable energy. This is particularly the case as the area is also prospective for lithium and geothermal energy, as well as tin, copper and tungsten. These aims are in accordance with Cornwall’s Environmental Growth Strategy.
- Also, should the Project proceed to production in the future, we envisage it as an underground operation, accessed by a gently descending “decline” underground,
with the entrance (“portal”) to this situated well away from residential areas, low to the ground, and sympathetically landscaped to blend into its natural environment. We envisage minimal surface infrastructure, and that it will not be necessary to construct a surface processing plant in the vicinity. We envisage that any future extraction activities would involve processing as much material as is viable underground, utilising developing green technology applications to do so, including to minimise dust, improve water quality, and reduce waste. After this primary processing underground, the material would then be conveyed by electric or hydrogen powered trucks for secondary processing, but this processing hub would not be near the residential areas of Carleen and its environs.
- Cornwall is still one of the poorest regions in Europe, but with investment it could level up, and the minerals sector is already providing (and will continue to provide) much needed careers and jobs for the working people of Cornwall. This is very beneficial to our local communities. It is not just the direct jobs which are created by the mineral companies, but all the indirect jobs (generally in this sector the ratio is four indirect jobs for every one direct job created) including for example local services, supply and repair firms and individuals.
- If anyone has any queries about the arrangements for further communications they are welcome to contact me or Jeff, and we look forward to seeing you at the next zoom meeting.
Sally Norcross-Webb Chief Executive Officer email@example.com
Planning and Communication firstname.lastname@example.org