The Drakelands tungsten-tin mine and processing facilities formerly operated by Australian group Wolf Minerals, and perhaps better known as the Hemerdon operation, have been acquired by firm Tungsten West for £2.8M (US$3.7M).
Drakelands, located near Hemerdon in Plymouth, UK was mothballed in late 2018 after Wolf went into administration, owing around £70M (US$91M) to creditors.
A firm called Drakelands Restoration, a subsidiary of services company Hargreaves, took over the site in 2019, while the operation remained on care-and-maintenance. Local news reports indicated that Hargreaves had signed a 10-year mining services contract with Tungsten West worth £1M a year, starting in 2021.
Drakelands had a nameplate capacity of 2.6ktpy W in concentrates when it was re-opened by Wolf Minerals in 2015. Initial production reports from the company outlined its difficulties in mining and processing the near-surface weathered portion of the granite deposit. This had negatively affected recoveries from the fine particle ore, and Wolf was subsequently unable to meet its contracted supply commitments.
Recoveries at the operation improved but remained well below nameplate capacity, reaching a peak of 991t W in 2018.
The restart of operations would no doubt be welcome to consumers in Europe and North America, representing one of the largest, long-life mines outside China. Key to the operation’s future success will be resolving the processing issues that plagued Wolf Minerals.
Roskill’s Tungsten: Outlook to 2028 report was published in March 2019. The third quarterly update will be released to subscribers in December. For more information, visit the report webpage Click here.