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UK's South Crofty tin mine project moves closer to full permitting

London — Strongbow Exploration has successfully completed water treatment trialsat its South Crofty tin project in Cornwall, the UK, and is now working on anapplication to the the Environment Agency for a mine waste permit, theCanadian miner said Friday.

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The application was expected to be filed within one month, and permitswere anticipated to be issued before the end of the summer, the company said,adding that once it receives a mine waste permit with water discharge consent,the South Crofty project will be fully permitted.

South Crofty -- the last operating tin mine in Cornwall, which beganlarge-scale production in the mid-17th century -- closed in 1998 and the minewas allowed to flood. In its last full year of operation, 1997, the mineproduced 181,320 mt of ore grading 1.42% Sn.

The mine waste permit application envisages an initial pumping/treatmentrate of 25,000 cu m/ day over an 18-24 month period.

After dewatering the mine is complete and then during production, asteady-state dewatering program of 5,500-6,500 cu m/day will be maintained,subject to annual precipitation variations, Strongbow said.

The installation and operation of a permanent water treatment plant forthe South Crofty project "will provide a material improvement to the currentstatus of the local environment which currently has untreated, contaminatedmine water discharging into the Red River", the company said.

The cost to construct the permanent water treatment facility is includedas part of the $118.7 million pre-production capital cost outlined in thepreliminary economic assessment of the project released in February.

The PEA indicated the project was "potentially economically viable andtechnically feasible", Strongbow said at the time.

The successful completion of the water treatment trials "marks a keymilestone in the redevelopment of the South Crofty tin mine", brokerage SPAngel said Friday in a research note.

"Much work can be done in terms of preparing the site, the plant, themine plan, the upper mining levels and the mine financing before the mine isfully dewatered and we wonder if it is theoretically possible for South Croftyto get a significant proportion of its work done by the time the mine is fullydrained," it said.

--Andy Blamey,

--Edited by Dan Lalor,