Thursday, 16 April 2015

"Poldark Country" : Cape Cornwall to Botallack

My favourite section of the magnificent Cornish coastal path is the World Heritage area around Botallack, steeped in mining history with spectacular rugged clifftop scenery.

Last month I took a relatively easy 2.5 mile walk from Cape Cornwall to Botallack. Cape Cornwall is a headland near the town of St. Just, and was once thought to be the most westerly point in Cornwall. What many people think is a monument on the headland is the chimney of a mid-19th century tin mine, which was retained as an aid to navigation, no other trace of the mine remaining.

Cape Cornwall
Cape Cornwall with the Brisons rocks one mile south west
Proceeding east from Cape Cornwall the majestic grandeur of this coastline becomes apparent, with many reminders that we are now in an area which has been intensively mined for copper and tin over the centuries.

After ascending the cliff, the path drops down to the Kenidjack Valley, cut by the Tregeseal river, which was a source of power for the many waterwheels powering tin workings along its length.  Now so overgrown as to be inaccessible are the ruins of the Kenidjack arsenic works, which recovered arsenic from the concentrates of the nearby tin mines.

Kenidjack arsenic works
Kenidjack arsenic works
Ascending the cliff again a magnificent 19th century mining panorama appears, with the distant Crowns engine houses on the left and in the foreground the ruins of the Wheal Edward stamps engine house on the left and the West Wheal Owles pumping engine house and the remains of the winding engine house on the right.

Wheal Edward stamps and West Wheal Owles engine houses
Work began on extracting tin and minerals at Wheal Owles in the 1850s. At its height it had 29 miles of levels and 11 steam engines at the site. However, tragedy struck in January 1893 when flood water broke through the underground workings trapping one boy and 19 men. Their bodies were never recovered and the mine remained closed from that day.

Arsenic works Botallack
The remains of the Botallack arsenic works with the headgear of the 1980s Allen's Shaft in the background
Passing the remains of the Botallack Mine dressing floors and arsenic works, the Crowns Engine houses, the most photographed engine houses in Cornwall (posting of 30 May 2010) come into full view, the large pumping house on the left and the smaller winding house on the right. For the BBC’s 2015 adaptation of Winston Graham’s Poldark novels, Wheal Owles and the iconic Crowns engine houses doubled as the Poldark family mines (posting of 29 March 2015).

Crowns Engine Houses Botallack
Crowns Engine Houses
The next 2 mile stretch of coast path takes in the mines that worked well out under the sea bed, the submarine mines of Botallack, Levant and Geevor (posting of 2nd October 2014).

More Cornwall Walks
More on Cornish Mining
More on Cornwall

Monday, 13 April 2015

Sustainable Minerals '16 off to flying start

Next year's Sustainable Minerals '16 will run back to back with Biohydrometallurgy '16 in Falmouth.
Robin Batterham
Preparations for the conference have got off to a great start with the recruitment of a very eminent keynote speaker, Prof. Robin Batterham, Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. Until recently he was Group Chief Scientist, Rio Tinto Limited, President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and Chairman of the International Energy Agency Expert Group on Science for Energy.  Robin was Chief Scientist to the Australian Federal Government from 1999 to 2005. His current research interests centre on energy systems: including geothermal energy, energy reduction in comminution and in dewatering of low grade materials. His keynote lecture "The mine of the future - even more sustainable" will show how sustainability is something that is ever important but not necessarily easy to progress. He says that his presentation will reflect on his own sustainability journey of many years with a focus on the massive changes seen in the mining industry.
Markus Reuter
Giant international company Outotec has a proud record on sustainability (posting of 12th February 2014) and we are proud that the company recognises the importance of the conference, and is our first major corporate sponsor. We are also pleased to be able to congratulate Prof. Markus Reuter of Outotec, our long-standing consultant to the sustainability (formerly SRCR) conferences. Markus is co-author of the Handbook of Recycling (posting of 14th July 2014), which discusses the multifaceted field of metal and materials recycling, reuse and reclamation. The book was recently awarded 1st prize for the publication award by the International Solid Waste Association ISWA. Markus has also been awarded an honorary doctorship for his work from the Université de Liège, Belgium (MEI Online).
Finally I would like to thank our two media partners, International Mining, and Industrial Minerals, for their active involvement in what is set to be a fine conference in Cornwall next year.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

New Book- Microbiology for Minerals, Metals, Materials and the Environment

Microbiology for Minerals, Metals, Materials and the Environment by Abhilash, B.D. Pandey and K.A. Natarajan links chemical, metallurgical, and other metal inherent systems with microbes, and analyzes the interdependence between them.
Specifically intended to underscore the importance of microbes in environmental remediation in the mining industries, this text offers a basic and conceptual understanding of the role of microbes, and provides an extensive exploration of microbiology and metals.
Each chapter is written by experts from research, industry and academia. The authors expand on the whole scale of microbiology applications relevant to minerals, metal, material, and environment. They elicit the applications of microbes for metal extraction (including mechanisms and methods) from primary ores/minerals and mining wastes, biomining and related concepts of microbial diversity and various operations, and molecular biology of microbes involved in such systems (extremophiles). They also address in detail biohydrometallurgy, biomineralisation, bioleaching, biobeneficiation, biosynthesis, and bioremediation and other related areas.
The book is vailable from CRC Press.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A relaxed lunch with old friends

A great get-together for lunch at MEI HQ today, with all the family and old friends Steve Pendray and his fiancée Fiona Pascoe. Steve is a mineralogist and has been in charge of thin-section preparation at Camborne School of Mines for the past 29 years. Fiona is with pump manufacturer Watson-Marlow, whose headquarters is in Falmouth.

We have all been friends for many years, having skied together many times in Europe and USA.

Steve, Fiona, Amanda, Jon, Barbara and me in California, 1997

Frenchman's Creek to Falmouth

Falmouth lies between two beautiful rivers, the Fal to the east and the Helford to the west.  The Helford River has numerous inlets or creeks, the most well known being Frenchman's Creek, famed for the eponymous book and Hollywood film.
Four days ago Barbara and I walked the 9 miles from Frenchman's Creek to Falmouth, passing through the tiny village of Helford, where we took the ferry across the river to Helford Passage and then the lovely cliff top walk to Falmouth.
Frenchman's Creek Helford River
Frenchman's Creek
Looking across to Helford Passage from Helford
Helford River scenes
Durgan village on the Helford

Rosemullion Head with the Fal estuary in the background

Approaching Maenporth

Maenporth Cove

Approaching Falmouth
This is a highly recommended day out from Falmouth, as there is a regular bus service to Helford Passage from The Moor in Falmouth (except Sundays). The walk is moderate with an elevation gain of 1,150 ft.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

MEI Award 2014

Choosing a winner of the 2014 MEI Young Person's Award has not been an easy task, as there were some very worthy nominations.

However, a decision has been made and the recipient will be announced and presented with the award at Flotation '15 in Cape Town in November.

The call for nominations for the 2015 award will be made later in the year.