The reopening of South Crofty mine in Pool is a significant step closer after its owners received the final necessary permission to begin work at the site.

Canadian firm Strongbow Exploration has received permission which will allow it to empty the mine of water ahead of further work, with the eventual goal of recommencing tin extraction.

The company received an Environment Agency permit to discharge up to 25million litres of treated water per day from the mine into the Red River - which currently receives untreated water from historic mining operations - and can now build a water treatment facility.

South Crofty now has all necessary permits, with underground mine permission valid until 2071, and planning permission for a new process plant, including the water treatment plant.

Richard Williams, Strongbow chief executive officer, said: “The receipt of this permit is the culmination of a collaborative effort between the United Kingdom Environment Agency, our lead consultants W. S. Atkins and Strongbow.

"The planned water treatment facility will ensure that the dewatering of the South Crofty mine is conducted in a way that respects and benefits the local environment. As we move towards our final feasibility, we are very hopeful that our work will lead to the generation of new jobs with the re-opening of the South Crofty 'clean tin' mine in this historic and world-class tin mining district.

"It is exciting to be commencing the next phase of this project including dewatering the mine and completion of the feasibility study.”

The team working on the project has completed a four month water treatment trial ahead of the permit, and the new plant will use a high density sludge process to recover suspended solids and dissolved metals from the mine water.

The trial had to demonstrate that the mine water could be treated and meet sufficient quality standards to ensure that it does not adversely affect the water quality in the Red River, and the team also had to complete a noise impact assessment, flood risk assessment and a geomorphological study.

The majority of the treated water will be discharged into the Red River via the existing mine drainage adit at Roscroggan, and some water will be discharged into the river adjacent to the mine site at Tuckingmill, but only when there is no flood risk and it is safe to do so.

The company has said that dewatering is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2018 and take between 18 and 24 months to complete, with another year before it can be brought back into production.

In its statement, Strongbow also advised that if it failed to meet the requirements of its permit at any time, it could be suspended or cancelled, impacting the project’s development.

It also noted there can be no assurance that a feasibility study for the South Crofty will be positive, which could alter any end decision as to reopening the mine, with factors such as the tin market and general economic climate having potential effects.