THE team behind plans to restart mining at South Crofty near Camborne says a threat by Unesco to remove the area’s World Heritage status is “hard to fathom”.

The organisation has said it has not been consulted about work beginning at the site, and has called for an immediate halt to the plans.

Unesco (the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), granted the area World Heritage status in 2006.

The award was made to recognise that the "substantial remains are a testimony to the contribution Cornwall and West Devon made to the Industrial Revolution in the rest of Britain and to the fundamental influence the area had on the mining world at large".

Mining at South Crofty was originally stopped 14 years ago when the price of tin fell to an all-time low, making the operations at the site unsustainable.

However, the price has been rising steadily for a number of years now, and, with other metals discovered at the mine, the owners, the Celeste Copper Corporation (CCC), want to resume mining.

Planning permission for the operation was granted by Cornwall Council in late 2011, and over £15 million has already been spent on the project.

Now Unesco have called for an immediate halt to the scheme, saying they need to assess its impact on the area before it can go ahead.

Although English Heritage did give preliminary notice of the plans to Unesco in 2008, no formal notification was made when planning permission was granted last year.

Alan Shoesmith, CCC's chief executive, said: “Unesco's call is a difficult one to fathom.

"The heritage they're protecting is former mining landscape.

"What we build here will be the heritage of the future."