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By | John Oates 11th February 2011 09:52

Rare metals found in Cornish tin mine

There's gold, and indium, in them thar hills

A Cornish tin mine hopes to be producing hundreds of kilos of valuable indium – used in iPads and other devices and costing up to £500 a kilo.

The primary provider of the substance is Canada, where indium is associated with zinc mining. It used to be used for high performance metal bearings in aircraft but is now mostly used as an oxide to provide electrodes used in touchscreens and LCDs.

Chief operating officer John Webster told the Daily Mail: "Each kilo is worth about £500 and we estimate we will mine between 250,000 to 400,000 tonnes per year [of the raw ore used to produce indium] in the first phase."

Western Union Mines reopened the South Crofty tin mine in 2004. They use computer-controlled hydraulic drills to create shot holes for blasting.

Crofty was the last working tin mine in Europe when it shut in 1998 – tin had been mined there since the 16th Century.

It currently employs 62 people but managers hope to increase this if the indium is available in sufficient quantities. Prices for indium have gone up sharply in the last 10 years.

There's more here on Cornwall's indium rush. ®

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