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Wheal Buller Mine, Cornwall

Wheal Buller

Principal ores: COPPER & TIN

Redruth: grid reference SW698404

Notable minerals: Amethyst, Calcite, Cassiterite, Chalcocite, Chalcopyrite, Chalybite, Chessylite, Copper, Cuprite, Fluor, Malachite, Melaconite, Olivenite, Opal, Pitchblende, Rock Crystal, Torbernite & Zippaeite.

Wheal Buller sett lies to the south of Redruth beside the Redruth to Helston Road. The sett lies between the Basset Mines around Carnkie and the mines of Gwennap such as Penstruthal and also Pennance Consols. To the north lies Clijah & Wentworth sett whilst a little further east lie the mines of the Carn Marth granite such as Cathedral Mine and Wheal Damsel as one approaches Carharrack and St. Day. Its nearest neighbour is the sett of Copper Hill Mine - a former part of Wheal Buller.

Wheal Buller was one of the greatest copper mines in Cornwall. It ranks fourth in terms of production behind Dolcoath, Tresavean and North Roskear. Between the years of 1819 and 1875, the mine produced over 140,000 tons of copper ore. The origins of the mine are unclear but Wheal Buller is thought to date from the end of the 18th Century when it was known as Trewirgie Downs mine. Its near neighbour, Wheal Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham) was also a copper producer of some note. The two mines are thought to have amalgamated sometime in the 1830's. Trewirgie Downs was renamed Wheal Buller in 1819. The mine is named after the landowner and Mineral Lord James Wentworth Buller from a new 21-year lease was acquired in 1849. The next few years saw copper production rise from about 1100 tons of ore in 1849 to over 13,500 tons in 1853. So much money was being made the dividends were paid out almost straight away. A dividend of £45,000 in 1853 was overtaken by a dividend to shareholders of £53,760 in 1854. Around about this time the northern section of the sett was sliced off to form Copper Hill Mine.

From this high point, production fell away as did the copper price. A new shaft was sunk in summer 1856 known as Kistler's (or Kistle's) Shaft but production continued to fall. Over the next ten years or so, despite further development of the shafts, production of copper ore fell from 7000 tons in 1856 to only 228 tons in 1866. This decline can be shown more clearly if we look at the value of ore sold. The 7482 tons sold in 1856 were worth £39,762 whilst the 228 tons had a value of just £900. Some tin was raised during this time but enough to keep the mine in profit. The mine struggled on into the 1870's but the position of the mine was unsustainable and the mine equipment was sold off in 1875.

For more information on production dates and so on please see Roger Burt's excellent book Cornish Mines: Metalliferous and Associated Minerals, 1845-1913 (Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom, 1845-1913).

There is a wealth of information on the mines and miners of Cornwall available. Why not explore Cornwall's industrial heritage through the Bookstore?

Other nearby mines and their main ores

Wheal Uny (approx. 0.6 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Bucketts (approx. 0.9 km; COPPER)

East Carn Brea (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER)

North Wheal Basset (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER & TIN)

Penstruthal (approx. 1.2 km; COPPER & TIN)

South Buller & West Penstruthal (approx. 1.2 km; COPPER)

Wheal Basset (approx. 1.2 km; COPPER)

Wheal Trefusis (approx. 1.4 km; COPPER & TIN)

Pennance (approx. 1.4 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Union (approx. 1.6 km; TIN)


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