Scotland’s Cononish gold and silver mine – operated by Scotgold – hopes to pour its first gold by November 30th 2020, in a positive boost for UK mining efforts.
Cononish is Scotland’s first commercial gold mine, situated in the Highlands between Fort William and Glasgow. Notice for Planning Approval was received from the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and Scotgold commenced work at Cononish on December 18th, 2018.
Gold mining is often a slow process however, involving many stages of exploration and digging before ore is finally removed. As with many other mines globally, the Cononish project has also found its progress hindered by the outbreak of coronavirus.
The mine has observed all the Scottish government's Covid-19 restrictions, and resumed working on June 15th in a limited capacity. It was back to full mining activities on July 8th and has now announced that it expects its first refined gold to be poured by the end of November.
Scotgold had expected to begin gold production earlier this year, but bad weather delays and, more significantly, the Covid-19-related stoppages have pushed this back to the current November date.
Scotgold has invested heavily in the site, mining equipment and staff. Its current mining team has expanded and includes the former care and maintenance team. At full production it expects the mine to employ a staff of 63.
The company has also expanded and added to its Geoscience Team to help locate any new reserves. It has recently announced the arrival of new large-scale mining equipment, as well back-up machines to limit the impact of any failures.
Richard Gray, CEO, said: “Our key focus is obviously the processing plant, but at the same time we are putting the pieces in place to ensure the long-term success of the mining operation and a reliable supply of ore to treat.”
Over its nine-year lifespan, Cononish is expected to produce 23,370 oz of gold annually. There are however more optimistic predictions that this could well be exceeded.
Gold mining in the UK is very limited, with sites generally restricted to small scale. With the gold price soaring however, Scotgold's newly expanded Geoscience team is now exploring the Grampian region for further underground reserves. Any significant finds will undoubtedly be a boon to the UK economy, and see further expansion from Scotgold to capitalise on the finds.