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The heart of the Cornish tin-mining district, looking from Dolcoath Mine towards Redruth circa 1890. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Collapse of the Cornish Tin Mines

Who would think it wasn’t going to last forever?

The mines of Cornwall, England operated for over 4000 years. Then, after these four millenia of continuous human endeavour, the entire industry became extinct in little more than a single generation. When the end came, it was unexpected, swift and brutal.


The consequences of the collapse were staggering and far-reaching. Nearly one third of Cornish miners fled to more favourable parts of the world where, despite countless other hardships, their skills were highly valued and they could continue to ply their trade. Cornwall’s loss was the world’s gain however, as much of the hard rock mining expertise in the world owes at least a partial debt to the ingeniuty of displaced and then transplanted Cornish miners.

Echoes from the Past Guiding Us in the Future

Those of us who work in, or with the natural resource industries would do well to think long and hard about the calamity of the Cornish tin mines as we chart our way forward in uncertain times:

Written by

Not There Yet.

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