Jeffrey, K 2013, 'Mine dumpology – mine tips as a scientific and public resource', in M Tibbett, AB Fourie & C Digby (eds), Mine Closure 2013: Proceedings of the Eighth International Seminar on Mine Closure
, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Cornwall, pp. 25-30, https://doi.org/10.36487/ACG_rep/1352_03_Jeffrey
There is increasing international appreciation of mining heritage – and nowhere more than in Cornwall. UNESCO recently recognised the historical importance of its mining archaeology with World Heritage designation. Old engine houses, mines, tramways, dressing floors, kilns and associated processing facilities are now accorded protection and recognised for their uniqueness on a world scale. These are worthy of preservation, but another important aspect of mining site legacy is missing.
Mine dumps are unfortunately named, implying worthlessness, when they are actually the repository of mine uniqueness. It is straightforward to replace historical mine buildings, indeed restoration often does, with currently available skills and materials. But not so mine dumps; it is impossible to replicate the unique nature of their contents – host rocks, ore assemblages, textures, and spatial variability created by the mining process.
Worldwide, mining sites are still being systematically destroyed in the name of beautification, redevelopment, social rejuvenation and environmental remediation. Over the last 50 years Cornwall has suffered a catastrophic loss of its mining history through this process, focussing on picture-postcard engine houses and creating a theme park mentality to its mining history. The dumps, however, are as important, if not more so, than the buildings. Mine dumps have a wide range of potential stakeholders, including companies, scientists, mineral collectors, historians and mine heritage enthusiasts.
This paper proposes a new field of study – one fitting between mining history, economic geology and forensic industrial archaeology. Mine dumpology: the study of mine tips using approaches drawn from geological fieldwork, mineralogy, archaeology, history, forensics and diverse laboratory sciences.
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