A MINING company that wants to explore for high grade tin on a former 18th site has been warned to ‘back off’ and start again by concerned neighbours.
Truro-based company Cornish Tin has written to landowners living in the Wheal Vor and Wheal Metal area near Breage telling them they have the agreement of the mineral rights owner of their land to allow exploratory drilling beneath their fields but they must inform the owner first.
The letter, from mining consultant Jeff Harrison, says a £500 goodwill payment will be made once the exploratory drilling starts and then another £500 once it has been completed.
He says the company is currently preparing a General Permitted Development Order for six months that will be heard by Cornwall Council in April.
But people who live on and around the site have set up a Facebook group to discuss the implications of the drilling which has acquired 128 members in just one week.
Jamie Lovekin, who lives at Wheal Vor, said: “Very recently we found out they are invoking this archaic mineral rights to access the land and their property. When people start looking at their deeds it looks like this is the case.
“Our objection is that in this pandemic and lockdown people are feeling highly insecure and their mental health is at risk and they are feeling unsafe.
“These people have the right to remove properties entirely. These ancient laws aren’t fit for purpose.
“People are really, really worried. I have spoken to neighbours who are not in favour of it.
“They are putting pressure on people, that’s what we feel. It is increasingly inappropriate.
“We have an 83-year-old neighbour who is uneasy and scared. He doesn’t want these people on his land. It is a residential area, it isn’t like it was in the 18th century.”
He added: “If we had heard about this through the parish council as a community and been informed that they were looking at the area it would have been better.
“If they had come to us with these proposals, we wouldn’t have been so shocked. We would have been able to build a working relationship based on trust and dialogue. They have offered a derisory amount for exploratory drilling.
“We do not want it in our lives.
“I would want them to back off. I want them to completely back off until the lockdown is over and start some sort of dialogue with the local group.”
He says rather than being turned over to mining it should be turned into a nature reserve instead.
Mr Harrison said the exploratory drilling was to see if the “old miners” had left anything down there after they stopped mining in the area and if it was successful it would take at least ten years to get the site up and running properly.
He said he had been in contact with the parish council last October communicating with them and there was a Zoom parish council meeting on February 2 and quite a few people, including those neighbouring the site, were going to be listening in and there would be a Q&A.
He added that with Covid restrictions he did recognise it was not as easy to go around to people’s houses, have a cup of tea and tell them what was happening, and they were having to do it more by phone and email and through the parish councillors.
“We have always said that we will have some sort of public display meeting before we start drilling again,” he said. “Covid makes that more difficult.
“I worked on two other exploratory drilling sites in the past two years and had no complaints for both of those. For six months there was no complaints from local people, we kept noise, traffic movement, all those things to a level such that it didn’t cause a single complaint to us.
“We had a very good relationship with the parish community and the parish council and we hope to try and do the same again.
“But clearly when people first hear about things like this they do tend to be worried. It’s trying to get all the information and the facts to them so they can then make a judgement for what is right and proper for the future.”
He said unfortunately the landowners may own the land but they did not own the mineral rights for what was underground.
By law the mineral rights owner was allowed to explore underground as long as they informed the land owner.
Mr Harrison said they were looking to explore 200 to 300 metres below the surface and there would be no vertical shafts, just sloping a entrance if the actual mine eventually went ahead. He said the mine would be green and ecologically sound with the use of electric vehicles and green technology.