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The Mines of Hayle - Mellanear Mine

Marshall Hutchens (reprinted from Hayle Pump issue No. 6, October 1995.)

The Mine operated in the ground around what is now Tolroy Motors. Until the Hayle bypass was built, there were several mounds of waste or ‘burrows’ to give them their local name. Even today there is still a shaft in the waste ground opposite the garage.

The mine probably started in the early years of the nineteenth century – there are records of copper ore output from 1815 and 1816. After this period the mine seems to have closed until 1866, when it was reopened on the ‘Cost Book’ system. The adventurers in a mine would pay any costs on an amount per share basis and would pocket any profits in a similar way. The disadvantage of the cost book system was that as profits over costs were given out, the mine was starved of any development money. This often led to the premature end of a mine as happened in this case.

Mellanear Mine was reopened again in 1876 on a limited basis. It remained open until 1889 during which time it had reached a depth of 150 fathoms (900 feet) from surface and produced around 66,000 tons of 6% copper ore as well as some zinc ore, known as ‘Black Jack’. It was hoped that tin might be found in the bottom of the mine but this was not the case and so the mine closed down in 1889 when the price of copper fell to a very low level. It has not worked since although the dumps of waste rock may have been picked through for any remaining ore.

Mellanear Mine had 6 recorded shafts including Gundrys which was the main shaft. This was vertical for 600 feet and then at an angle for another 300 feet. It measured 16 feet by 7 feet.

The mine was notable on two accounts.

1) It was one of the wettest mines in England for its size – 1,100 gallons of water a minute needed to be drained by a second hand 76 inch engine. (This was originally built by Harveys in 1824 for the Wheal Vor Mine near Godolphin.)

2) It was the second largest copper producer, after Devon Great Consols, in the 9 years after 1879. Eventually the ore reserves ran out and the company went into liquidation. At its height it would probably have employed 200-300 men and women. It is very unlikely that Mellanear will ever produce anything again.