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Wheal Jane & West Wheal Jane Mine, Cornwall

Principal ores: TIN, COPPER & SILVER-LEAD

Gwennap: grid reference SW772426

Location: The sett of Wheal Jane including West Wheal Jane, lies 2 miles southeast of Chacewater and was absorbed, along with Wheal Widden, Nangiles, Wheal Hope, Falmouth & Sperries (East Wheal Falmouth) and Wheal Jane into 'Falmouth Consolidated Mines' in 1905, although the Falmouth Consols Group was dissolved in 1915. Wheal Jane lies to the northeast of Mount Wellington Mine and Nangiles, west of Wheal Baddon and southeast of the Wheal Hope, Wheal Sperries and East Wheal Falmouth mines at the head of the Carnon Valley. It is characterised by its large settling lagoon and tailings dam. this was the site of great controversy when the plug in the Nangiles adit burst on the 14th January 1992, causing approximately 12 million gallons of metal rich water to pour down the Carnon Valley and enter Restronguet Creek and ultimately the estuary of the River Fal. The event making the National News.

Metal extraction here dates from the 1600's, with ancient open cast mining taking place in the form of gunnises at Chy Goose, just north of Gooden Farm. The mine dates from the middle of the eighteenth century and was chiefly a tin mine that also produced sizeable quantities of copper and silver-lead. Other minerals worth noting were arsenic and zinc as well as Annabergite, Beraunite, Blende, Cerussite, Chalybite, Galena, Melanterite, Niccolite, Pentlandite and Vivianite.

This large sett, in the parish of Kea, lies immediately south of the hamlet of Baldhu. Wheal Jane as we know it today was basically an amalgamation of several other small concerns. The mine worked the following lodes, all trending SW-NE: Main Lode, Ready Money Lode, North No.1 Lode, North No. 2 Lode, Copper Lode, Middle Lode, Mount Wellington Lode, Basset Craze Lode, South Lode and Hangingwall Lode. As to shafts on the site, it may be best thought of as a group having having three distinct sections: Wheal Widden, West Wheal Jane and Wheal Jane itself:

Wheal Widden worked from Williams' Shaft and Blueburrow Shaft.

West Wheal Jane worked from Beecher's Shaft, Jones' (or Moor) Shaft, Tippett's Shaft, Painter's Shaft, Venables Shaft, Boscawen (or Jacka's) Shaft, Sparrow Shaft and Clemow's Shaft.

Wheal Jane worked from Dunstan's Shaft, Field's Shaft, Gweal Durrant Shaft, Gilbert's Shaft, Giles' Shaft, Wheal Tremayne Shaft and Falmouth Shaft

The group like many other Cornish mines had a chequered history, closing several times between the mid 1700's and its initial abandonment in 1875. Reopening once more it closed again in 1893. Wheal Jane re-opened in 1906, now as part of the Falmouth Consolidated Mines. Its management intent on modernising the mine and reducing their overheads. Unfortunately this was to be the first of many 'false dawns' and Wheal Jane closed again in 1915. Reopening in the late 1930's Wheal Jane turned its attention to its spoil heaps as advances in mineral processing techniques and froth flotation systems allowed the plant to continue working until 1946. The mine now lay abandoned until 1969 when the site was purchased by Rio Tinto Zinc. Production restarted and continued until the disastrous failure of the 'International Tin Agreement' in 1985. The flooding of the market with cheap tin from the Third World causing the tin price to crash and having a massive effect throughout Cornwall. Although the mine was dewatered with the help of pumps at nearby Mount Wellington, this was effectively the end. The pumps were finally switched off in 1992.

Production figures are as follows:
West Wheal Jane - 1854-1859: 410 tons of black tin, 50 tons of copper ore, 382 tons of arsenic, 158 ounces of silver, 390 tons of zinc, 26 tons of 74% lead ore, 27,140 tons of pyrite and 207 tons of iron ore

Wheal Jane - 1847-1895: 3,832 tons of black tin, 740 tons of 4% copper ore, 243 tons of arsenic, 2,921 ounces of silver, 586 tons of zinc, 302 tons of lead ore at 68%, 33,340 tons of pyrite, 3,666 tons of iron ore, 86 tons of mispickel (arsenopyrite) and 100 tons of ochre.

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

South Wheal Garras (approx. 0.6 km; LEAD, SILVER & PYRITE)

Great Wheal Baddon (approx. 0.6 km; LEAD, SILVER, ZINC & TIN)

Falmouth & Sperries (approx. 0.7 km; COPPER, ZINC, LEAD-SILVER & IRON ORE)

Nangiles (approx. 1.0 km; COPPER, TIN, ZINC, PYRITE, ARSENIC, IRON ORE & OCHRE)

Mount Wellington (approx. 1.4 km; TIN)

North Jane (approx. 2.4 km; TIN, ARSENIC, IRON ORE & SILVER-LEAD)

Creegbrawse & Penkevil United (approx. 2.7 km; COPPER & TIN)

Wheal Maid (approx. 2.8 km; TIN)

Consolidated Mines (Consols) (approx. 2.8 km; COPPER & TIN)

Poldice (approx. 3.1 km; COPPER, TIN, ARSENIC & ZINC)


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