In January 2021 a plan for exploratory drilling came to light. Cornish Tin Limited had approached certain households whose properties were in the Wheal Vor area, close to Breage, three miles from Helston. They were asking landowners to sign agreements to allow them to carry out drilling on their property in return for financial compensation. About 60% of the landowners who had been approached, signed access agreements with Cornish Tin.
The deeds of most properties in the area clearly show that although they own their property and the land on which it sits, they don’t own the mineral rights below ground.
Map of the Great Wheal Vor Project Area: The mine entrance could be anywhere up to 3k from the boreholes.
Cornwall Council and Breage Parish Council were aware of these plans as early as October 2020 and were asked to keep the matter confidential.
When members of the community became aware of the plans to develop mining in the area, a community group was formed to Protect Wheal Vor.
The aims of the Group are:
• To question the assumptions of Cornish Tin
• To provide robust opposition to full-scale mining
• To provide information and an educational resource
• To Protect Wheal Vor, its wildlife, its environment and its groundwater and watercourses for ourselves and future generations.
In July 2021 Cornish Tin were granted a General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) from Cornwall Council, to proceed with the first phase of an exploratory drilling operation of 33 planned drill holes on 26 sites within the area. Drilling was twice postponed but eventually began in Spring 2022. Meanwhile Cornish Tin have changed their narrative from being interested only in exploration, to talking about running a full scale mining operation.
Cornish Tin have suggested that a future mine entrance could be up to three kilometres from the borehole sites, so areas as far away as Crowntown, Polladras and Sithney could be affected. Porthleven Stream could see a serious increase in water pollution. Wildlife, tourism, livelihoods and our cherished environment are all under threat.