Tungsten West, the company responsible for bringing the Hemerdon mine on the outskirts of Plymouth back into operation, recently hosted the Minister for Industry.
On Thursday 24 March, MP Lee Rowley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, took a tour of the mine, which is the third largest tungsten resource in the world.
Max Denning, CEO of Tungsten West, said: “We were delighted to welcome MP Rowley to the mine – his visit highlights the strategic importance of our organisation to the supply of tungsten and tin in the western world and we’d like to thank him for his interest in our project.
“Not only will Tungsten West be a company of strategic importance to the country, we also aim to become an employer of real significance in Devon – an area with a rich mining history. We plan to directly employ around 300 permanent members of staff at the mine and have a supply chain that keeps thousands of additional people in work. We need the help and support of the community to achieve our ambitions which will have long-term benefits for the whole area. Our mission could not align more perfectly with the Government’s levelling-up agenda.”
Tungsten West already employs almost 100 members of staff, a figure that will increase by a further 200 once production begins in 2023. It will also work with numerous contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in the region to support the local economy – one of its commitments is to buy local, unless specialist equipment is required.
Industry Minister Lee Rowley said: “It was fantastic to visit Tungsten West and see the work they are doing to build supply chains in the critical minerals that will advance new industries, boost national security and support economic growth.
“We are determined to deliver more resilient, longer-term supply chains by working with companies like Tungsten West. Collaboration like this is what will help create jobs and opportunities for people across the country.”
Mr Denning went on to say: “Given the current geo-political situation across the globe, it is more important than ever to reduce the UK’s reliance on imports of critical raw materials from other countries. If we can become more self-sufficient as a nation, we de-risk our vital sustainability and innovation agendas, which rely heavily on materials such as tungsten and tin.
“We are right here, in Devon, and will be mining a critical material in high demand globally because of its uses in progressive technologies, including automotives, electronics, medical equipment, manufacturing and defence.
“Hemerdon is set to be the largest western producer of tungsten concentrates once production begins in 2023, with the potential to radically change the supply chain of this critical material in the UK, the EU and the USA, all of whom are highly dependent on imports from China, Vietnam and Russia.
“Tungsten and tin are both considered conflict minerals because, like gold and tantalum (the 3TGs), they originate from parts of the world where their production is used to directly fund conflict. Tungsten West will therefore ensure a sustainable supply of socially responsible tungsten and tin are available to the west.
“Naturally, what we’d like to see is whole-hearted support from the Government so that we are working together for mutual benefit. MP Rowley’s visit marks a fantastic start to what we hope will be real and continued interest from Westminster.”
To date, Tungsten West has raised over £70M in capital through private investment and listing on the AIM London Stock Exchange in October 2021. These funds are being used to deliver a £45M capital programme of works to revamp and enhance the mine’s facilities, ensuring the most efficient, cost-effective, sustainable and reliable ways of extracting its precious resources.
MP Rowley’s responsibilities as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister of Industry) include levelling up / regional growth, skills, advanced manufacturing, professional and business services, infrastructure and materials (including steel), aerospace, maritime, construction, chemicals, rail, defence, Net Zero Industry Champion, devolved administrations, supply chains and critical minerals.