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Exploratory zinc mining "looks promising"

Exploratory drilling for zinc. Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

A mining company says its exploratory drilling for zinc in the Pennines is looking very promising.

If the conditions are right, the Canadian company, Minco, wants to bring back mining to the area around Nenthead and Allenheads, with potentially a huge boost to employment.

Above England's highest village exploratory drilling is underway. Around 20 boreholes have been sunk in the area around Nenthead to try to find untapped deposits of zinc. If successful it could bring a great deal of work to this remote part of the Pennines.

The village and other parts of the North Pennines were major centres for lead mining for two hundred years and entrances to old shafts can still be seen today. The village pub in Nenthead also bears witness to its past - an industry that lead to the village's creation and provided employment up to the 1960's.

This is a long term process though with a great deal of work still needed before any commercial mining can begin.

The exploratory drilling is expected to take several more years but if it is successful it could lead to around 300 new jobs coming to this area and that's something that's clearly every welcome here.

"Hopefully our services will be kept like buses, schools, hospitals, all of these are potentially under threat at the momentso the more people that come and especially businesses, they'll all need to spend their wages in the town so it's a good thing."**

– Louise Folkard, Alston Moor Business Association

"It is obviously a long way off but generally the community are very much in favour. I've heard very little opposition to the mine plans. It would make a huge difference to the community if we do get a large number of jobs."**

– Tim Haldon, Alston Moor Parish Council

The future of several Pennine communities could lie in these Nenthead hills and the secrets they hold may not stay hidden for much longer.**

Here is Tim Backshall's full report.