Gwynedd mine could reopen but in foreign hands

Image caption,
The famous Clogau St David's mine could be leased to an international firm

A jewellery firm is hoping not to lose out if an international company takes over a Gwynedd gold mine.

Overseas gold prospectors are in talks with the Crown Estate over taking on the licence at the famous St David's mine in Bontddu, near Dolgellau.

But Clogau Gold wants to resume mining or at least reach a deal for supplies.

The Crown Estate says an application is being considered.

The mine, which supplied the precious metal for Princess Diana's wedding ring, operated for 150 years before its closure in 1998 due to the soaring cost of health and safety measures.

Ben Roberts, managing director at Clogau Gold Limited, told the BBC he is disappointed the licence may have been granted to another firm.

Clogau has long made it known it is keen to negotiate a new lease at the nine-mile stretch of mine as its own gold supplies are running low.

Mr Roberts said: "We're naturally a little disappointed the licence may have been granted to someone else but we're keen to open discussions with the new consortium to discuss how we can purchase any precious metals extracted from the mine.

"If they get the licence and will not work with us, we really don't know where we will get our gold from in the future."

Clogau believes the prospect of finding gold at the mine is high and says that the current high price of gold and new technology had encouraged them to approach the Crown Commissioners to negotiate a new lease some years ago.

Precious metal

He added: "We would be the natural point of contact for anyone wishing to sell this very precious metal and we're regularly buying from local prospectors and panners presently."

The firm produces all its jewellery from supplies mined before the closure of St David's, but says the company is growing at such a rate it is consuming those supplies at an increased pace.

Mr Roberts said: "I'm sure many customers will be concerned about this news but I'm sure that there will be a resolution. Business is very good at the moment indeed."

The Crown Estate is worth over £6bn and has a portfolio which includes everything from listed buildings and forestry to the seabed. The licensing of gold mines is within its remit.

A spokesman confirmed negotiations over the lease at St David's were taking place but would not comment on who the firm is because of commercial sensitivity.

Image caption,
The site was used for gold mining for 150 years up until 1998

He said: "The Crown Estate can confirm it has received an application for an extension to a commercial exploration agreement in Gwynnedd, Wales.

"This application is currently being considered."

Gold from Clogau has been used for many royal wedding rings.

The Queen, the Prince of Wales, Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother all had their rings crafted from gold extracted from the Clogau St David's mine.

Clogau Gold, is an established jewellery brand which uses its stockpile of Welsh gold in most of its collections.

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