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The Cornish Mineral Industry 1937 – 1951. – J.H.Trounson (1989)

Page 107.

In the Alfred group there were several lesser mines, but the only other of importance is West Alfred Consuls, which sold 8,400 tons of copper ore during the years 1851 to 1865. In 1864 the western part of the property was re-opened as the Mellanear mine and this continued in operation until 1889, the production during this period being 66,000 tons of copper ore and 80 tons of black tin. Mellanear is of interest as being the last of the great Cornish copper to be worked on an extensive scale exclusively for the red metal and also one of the last to be controlled by Messrs. John Taylor and Sons, who at one period were associated with many of the greatest West Country copper enterprises.

The mine lies about half a mile south of Hayle, the shafts and dumps being situated both sides of the main road running from Hayle to Praze and Leedstown. This was one of the wettest mines for its size ever worked in Cornwall, about 1,100 gallons per minute being pumped in winter time.

Mellanear contains two lodes, which are continuous with some of those worked in the Alfred Mines further eastward. Both of them have a E.N.E course and underline to the north, but only one appears to have been extensively worked in depth. The ore-body was fairly productive, although of low grade; the ore-shoot dipped westward. In 1876 the old unlimited liability or ‘cost book’ company was succeeded by a limited one and notwithstanding the very depressed and continually falling copper market the latter company had by 1884 paid dividends totalling more than its original capital. The mine continued to be productive for copper to below the 100 fathom level, but then became poor. A discovery of tin gave rise to the hope that the lode might become stanniferous with increasing depth, but, these hopes being falsified by later developments, the mine was abandoned in 1889.

There is a persistent local tradition that Mellanear is a good prospect for tin, but this is not borne out by any of the known facts. The writer has been told by the son of the late underground manager that the only tin of value was encountered at the 140 fathom level, west of the western pumping shaft. Several men worked this very profitably on tribute, thus giving rise to the tradition of good tin values in the bottom of the mine. At the time of this discovery the company did indeed entertain great hopes that tin would succeed the copper in depth and the western main shaft was accordingly sunk to below the 150 fathom level and another drive extended at a depth of 150 fathoms. However, at that horizon the lode proved to be hard and absolutely barren and although the developments were extended under the point where the tin had been discovered in the level above nothing whatsoever of value was seen. As no other encouraging prospects existed in the property the company decided to go into liquidation. The Chairman’s speech at the company’s final meeting (a copy of which is in the writer’s possession) makes it quite clear that the abandonment of the mine was due to three factors – namely, the falling off of copper values with increasing depth, the low price of copper, and, finally, because the hopes of discovering payable tin values beneath the copper had been completely falsified by later developments.

It can only be concluded that as has so often happened with other old mines ‘distance lends enchantment to the view’ and mineral (in men’s minds) continues to grow under water! Whatever may be said against any further attempt to rework Great Wheal Alfred seems to apply equally to Mellanear and it is to be hoped that further capital will not be wasted at some future date in proving once again what has already been demonstrated by a past generation.

Page 42.

I have summarised this page in that generally speaking many mines were abandoned when the copper lode was worked out, but then, by experiment, it was discovered that by digging deeper, tin could be found and a new lease of life taken on by the mine. If tin was found in payable quantities then the mine could be profitably re-worked, but if the cost of mining deeper only discovered small worthless deposits of tin, then the re-opening of the mine was a fruitless operation.

Mellanear copper mine was an example of where the copper ore petered out in the killas (sedimentary rock) far above the granite and the load continued downward into extensive beds of greenstone in which it had become completely barren and had died out. Until the mining revealed this fact, Mellanear mine entertained the hope of becoming a tin mine at depth.