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Ambitious mining plans revealed

Five hundred jobs could be created if plans go ahead to bring lead and zinc mining back to a village in the Pennines.

Commercial mining started in Nenthead near Alston more than 300 years ago, and after it reached a peak in the middle of the 19th century, before declining.

An Irish mining company thinks there might be previously undiscovered resources still there as John Bevir reports:

In the report John speaks to Dick Phillips fromAlston Moor Parish Council and local resident Alex Martin.

Criticism over mining plans

Nenthead used to have a mine, but it was closed and turned into a museum.

The new plans have attracted some criticism because of the impact on the local environment, but the company behind the plans have been quick to point out that current mines are significantly cleaner than mines used to be.

They have also warned that the vast majority of exploration works do not lead on to mines being opened, but have said they won't know for certain until more boreholes are drilled.

$1million being spent on drilling

$1million is being spent on drilling exploratory boreholes, which could lead to the creation of a new lead and zinc mine in the North Penines.

If the project goes ahead, up to 500 jobs could be created at the mine just outside the village of Nenthead, near Alston, just a few miles from the border between Cumbria, County Durham and Northumbria.

One 350 metre borehole has already been drilled by the mineral exploration company Minco Plc.

Two further boreholes are planned, which could rise to eight, depending on what the initial ones reveal.


500 jobs hope for Nenthead

A mining company want to create a lead and zinc mine on Alston Moor.

Representatives from Minco plc have already met with residents of the nearby village of Nenthead.

The meeting explained that the company have made an initial borehole of 350 metres and three more bore holes are planned, with up to eight boreholes expected to be drilled.

The initial exploration is looking for mineral deposits to justify a commercial mining operation on the land. If this were to happen the company estimate up to 400 to 500 jobs would be made for 30 to 40 years. The company have confirmed their plans on their website saying:

"North Pennines, England - Minco has commenced a new exploration initiative in the North Pennine Orefield located in the northern English counties of Cumbria, Northumberland and Durham. Minco plans an initial US$1 million exploration programme, including 4,000 metres of diamond drilling.

"Exploration is focussed on the search for stratiform, replacement-style zinc and lead deposits in the unexplored, more massive limestone formations of the basal Carboniferous stratigraphy. There is significant untested potential for such mineralisation approximately 300-400m below previous, adit-accessed workings, and such deposits could be significantly larger than any previously discovered.

"Specific exploration targets have already been identified by Minco and initial exploration drilling will be focussed at three principal sites. Minco will complete approximately 4,000 metres of core drilling. The average depth of each hole will be approximately 500m."

– Minco plc