It’s a region known for its rich scenery of mountains, glens and lochs, but now one of Scotland’s most breathtaking national parks is readying to open the country’s first goldmine.
The Cononish mine, near Tyndrum in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, is expected to start production before the end of November and it will support dozens of local jobs and is expected to be the first in a string of sites set up in the coming years.
The company behind the project, Scotgold Resources, is seeking to produce 23,500 troy ounces of gold on average per year and believes it can recover more than 176,000 ounces in total, worth £255 million at current prices.
About 25 per cent of the gold will come out in a form suited to market directly on to jewellers, which will be labelled genuine Scottish gold and jewellers Sheila Fleet and Hamilton and Inches have already been lined up to purchase the first year’s production.
Between fifteen and 20 companies have said they’re interested in purchasing the gold, which will have a unique insignia on it confirming it’s from Scotgold’s mine.
Richard Gray, chief executive of Scotgold, said that they believe there’s a tremendous quantity of gold to be found in Scotland and they want to keep exploring and so do others, and although many have panned for gold in Scotland’s rivers, this will be its first goldmine and the only functional commercial goldmine in Britain.
The region sits on a geological belt containing gold that runs from Scandinavia to Canada, across Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Gold was uncovered in the region in the 1980s but production got off to a sluggish start after the price of gold crashed.
Scotgold took over the project in 2007 but failed to secure enough money to get it going, but since getting planning approval in 2018 the group said it’s been given moral support from the Scottish Government and was promised a grant of up to £430,000 for job innovation.
It’s even received overwhelming support from residents of the local towns, Tyndrum and Crianlarich.
The mine and the processing plant have been designed to have a minimal impact on the national park, which is home to red deer and has some of the best-preserved oak woodlands in Scotland.
The site will use machines operated by people to remove the rock, rather than people digging at the walls – it’s accessed through a tunnel that’s been built into a hill called Beinn Chuirn.
Gold has been mined in the United Kingdom since the time of the Romans.
Peak production of gold was between 1860 and 1909 when about 3,500 kg was discovered.
The largest concentrations of gold in the United Kingdom are in Scotland, North Wales and southwest England.
Today in Northern Ireland, for instance, there’s an estimated 15-20 million ounces of gold worth something close to £11 billion in a 30-mile gold trend at Clontibret in County Monaghan.
Also in Cornwall, the South Crofty mine near Camborne transformed from an extremely lucrative tin mine to a gold mine when traces were discovered through exploratory drilling.
Scientists believe that this gold mine may be more gold-rich than some of California’s most notable mines.
Besides gold mines, once in a while, large stashes of ancient gold coins from the Romans are discovered at places around the United Kingdom via metal detection, but no matter where it’s found, the United Kingdom, as numerous other places in the world, is rich in gold and other precious metals.