SYDNEY, March 19 (Reuters) - Tin mining is set to resume in the United Kingdom some 16 years after the last mine closed, as an Australian-listed company revives a tradition dating back to the Bronze Age.
Wolf Minerals said on Wednesday it will begin production of tin and tungsten in little more than a year at its Hemerdon mine in Devon after raising A$182.7 million ($167.9 million) to underwrite construction work.
Tungsten, prized for its use in manufacturing super-hard steels, will be the main focus of the project, but the mine will also yield 460 tonnes a year of tin as a by-product at peak production.
Britain produced about 10,000 tonnes of tin a year in the mid-1800s, about half the world’s output at the time. The neighbouring county of Cornwall boasted 2,000 tin mines alone.
Wolf will use revenue from its tin to offset the cost of producing 3,450 tonnes a year of tungsten, which is in demand due to restrictions on output and exports by major producer China.
Analysts see demand for tungsten growing at 4-5.5 percent a year, while the Hemerdon project would produce about 3.5 percent of global forecast 2016 demand, a Wolf spokesman said.
The company’s shares fell 23 percent on Wednesday to A$0.345 a share after it raised the funds at A$0.30 a share.
Wolf said its major shareholders, private equity groups Resource Capital Funds and a unit of New Zealand’s Todd Corp Ltd, took part in the raising, boosting their maximum interests in the company to 41.8 percent and 32.5 percent, respectively.
JP Morgan and Blackrock also participated in the placement as first-time investors, according to a source familiar with the transactions.
Mining in Cornwall and Devon began in the Bronze Age around 2300 BC and ended when the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall closed in 1998.
$1 = 1.0950 Australian Dollars Editing by Richard Pullin