Wales

Dolgellau gold belt: Could mining resume in Welsh hills?

Soil samples being taken on Welsh hillside Image copyright Alba Mineral Resources
Image caption Soil samples have been taken across the countryside in Gwynedd

Gold could be found in new areas of Gwynedd, according to the boss of an exploration company.

Analysis of 1,200 soil samples taken in places away from known mine workings show "potential to find new sources of gold", George Frangeskides said.

His firm plans to restart mining at Clogau St David's gold mine at Bontddu, Dolgellau, which closed 30 years ago.

Experts have gone back inside the mine to carry out maintenance in order for more tests to be carried out.

Alba Mineral Resources has acquired a 90% stake in Gold Mines of Wales, which has permission from the Crown to prospect and mine in the area, as it searches for new sites.

Mr Frangeskides said soil samples have been taken at ground level across a 20-mile (32km) area, known as the Dolgellau gold belt, over the last three months.

"We have found multiple gold in soil anomalies which are not over existing mine workings," he told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales programme.

"So that suggests, certainly, the potential to find new sources of gold."

Image copyright Clogau
Image caption Undated photo of workers at the former Clogau mine

Gold mining in the area dates back to Roman times and it was the focus of a gold rush more than 150 years ago.

There are about 300 old mine workings across the gold belt.

Mr Frangeskides explained that workers at Clogau St David's mined by sight, following narrow veins of gold to extract the precious metal.

"We are going back in for the first time with modern exploration techniques," he said.

But maintenance and "rehab work" is under way before exploration can begin.

"It's not dangerous... but there is care and maintenance that needs to be done so we can go back in 100% safely," he said.

The area's gold mines shut when extraction cost more than the gold being produced but the price has improved.

Welsh gold jewellery firm Clogau, whose founders once owned Clogau St David's, bought the area's last gold mine, Gwynfynydd, in 2016, 17 years after it ceased production.

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