Searching for tin on the seabed

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The next stage of preliminary marine survey work is set to get underway this weekend to investigate opportunities for recovering “tens of millions of pounds worth” of waste tin from the Cornish seabed.

Marine Minerals Ltd will be surveying the coast between St Ives and Perranporth, where deposits of waste tin are located in the seabed sand.

The survey work will be carried out by the specialist survey vessel MV Flatholm, which is operated by Falmouth-based hydrographic survey company Coastline Surveys Ltd.

The survey vessel MV Flatholm
The survey vessel MV Flatholm

From the survey, Marine Minerals will be hoping to more precisely assess the location and quality of the tin and other mineral deposits, in the sandy seabed.

Exact timing of the survey work is reliant on the weather, but Marine Minerals anticipates starting this weekend and being completed over the coming two weeks.

Commercial manager, John Sewell, explained: “Our starting point with the tin recovery project is that there are tens of millions of pounds worth of Cornish tin, already mined over the last few centuries and washed out to sea, sitting in sand off the north Cornish Coast between St Ives and Perranporth.

“The value in that tin could be of great benefit to the Cornish economy: the challenge is, can the tin be recovered in a way that is environmentally and socially, as well as commercially viable? We obviously believe that the answer is yes, which is why we are pursuing the project.”

There are fears that recovering tin from the seabed could damage the environment for surfers. Sewell added: “We are acutely aware of a number of sensitive issues that need to be considered, which is why we have invited Surfers Against Sewage to join us during the marine survey work so they can see first hand the studies we are undertaking.

“We are committed to high levels of environmental performance and have completely rejected the use of traditional dredging methods to bring up the tin-bearing sand.

The latest information on project progress will be posted on the Marine Minerals website.