Historic Metalliferous Mining – the importance of a mining report when purchasing a property in Cornwall

Cornwall is steeped in vast history and heritage which spans back thousands of years. Amongst that history is its historic mining heritage of which at its peak, was said to make Cornwall and the South West one of the richest places in the world.

So, what was mined in Cornwall? Cornwall was heavily mined for precious metals including but not limited to tin, copper, arsenic, zinc and silver. When mining working became widespan across the globe, this had a significant impact on metal prices in Cornwall mining which led to a decline in the profitability of metalliferous mining. The decline is said to have begun towards the late 19th Century with some mining continuing until mining operations in Cornwall completely ceased around the 1980’s and 1990’s, with the last working mine closing in 1998.

The impact today

So how does the 4000-year mining heritage of Cornwall affect property purchasers today? Cornwall’s vast mining infrastructure largely remains concealed underground with properties and buildings being built over or near historic mine workings throughout Cornwall which could leave properties and occupants at risk. It is therefore vital that a mining report is obtained prior to commitment to purchase a property in Cornwall of which a desktop mining report is typically engaged in the first instance. A desktop mining report is a search of vast historic mining records in relation to the property’s location/position and sets out (also typically including a map/key) any known historic mining features and infrastructure etc. within a certain radius of the property. The mining report advises of the risk of subsidence based on historic activity based and the available historic mining records and will advise if any further action or investigation is recommended. Further action could include a physical inspection of the site and property grounds to visually look for signs of any features or movement that may be attributable to mining or more invasive (and costly) exposure work.

It is important to engage a mining report to protect the interest and safety of purchasers. Whilst mining reports cannot guarantee there are definitely no mining-related infrastructure or concerns as they are only based on the historic records available, they can identify and confirm known features and infrastructure as well as assist in identifying possible risks. It is important to remember that not all mining activity is recorded but that said, these specialist mining search companies have access to extensive records.

Whilst Cockrams do not carry out or provide mining reports, we are a firm with a wealth of local knowledge in building and local issues. If you have concerns about buying a property in Cornwall and local issues, give our friendly team a call to discuss on 01872 277230.