Sygun Copper Mine
|Date||9 March 2013|
|Location||Mynydd Sygyn, Beddgelert||SH 60528 48519; 53.01573°N, 4.08052°W|
It is thought that mining for copper at Sygun in the Gwynant valley close to Beddgelert could have originated in Roman times. Recorded activity at Sygun Copper Mine, however, dates back to the 18th century. During the 19th century, the concern suffered various financial difficulties and changed ownership a number of times before finally closing in 1903. Part of the complex, from the Deep Adit up to the Victoria Level, was renovated as a show mine and opened to the public as a tourist attraction in 1986.
Incidentally, at the end of the 19th century Sygun was one of the first mines in the world to make use of a revolutionary new method for separating minerals. An oil-based flotation process had been patented in 1869 by William Haynes, but it was the Elmore brothers who were the first to commercially develop an industrial-scale process. At the time, Stanley Elmore owned Sygun mine and his brother Frank patented their process in 1898. The basic principle of the process exploits the differences in hydrophobicity between the valuable metal sulphide and the gangue, or unwanted rock present in the ore. When a slurry of finely crushed ore, water and oil is agitated, the sulphides, having a greater affinity for oil than water, tend to accumulate in the former leaving the gangue in the latter. The sulphide-rich oil layer can then be separated off from which the concentrated ore is recovered.