Deposits of Indium have been discovered in an old mine at South Crofty, near Redruth in Cornwall.
Indium is used for all sorts of electronic gubbins – along with copper and zinc supplies are vital for the production of iWhatevers and similar. Crucial in crystal displays and touchscreen technology, it’s a raw material in indium tin oxide, or ITO, and is also useful for photovoltaic panel production.
The tin mine, shut down in 1998, was bought up by Western United Mines in an effort to locate commercial qualities of zinc. Speaking to the Telegraph, managing director Kevin Williams said: “It is a very significant discovery because there is no other UK producer of Indium. In fact, very few countries in the world do produce it in any big way.”
Up to 1,000g of indium per tonne has been found in some assays, John Webster, COO, told the Telegraph. “But generally the average has been about 100g per tonne which is about one kilo every ten tonnes. Each kilo is worth about £500 and we estimate we will mine between 250,000 to 400,000 tons per year in the first phase.”
Importantly, sleepy Cornwall now puts the United Kingdom on the map for electronics manufacturers globally. While the estimates are not through the roof, they are enough to draw attention to Britain’s industry as demand increases. About half of the world’s indium output is located in China which is treading carefully on all exports.
To put it into perspective, some estimates suggest that the raw material is more common than silver. Indium Corporation says the figure is roughly at 26,000 megatonnes in the west – while China and Russia sit on 23,000 megatonnes.
As TechEye reported late last month, demand for Indium is booming. It’s expected that there will be an annual average increase of 16 percent up until 2013.