Mount Wellington Tailings Dam, this is the area of the Wheal Maid valley at Gwennap that was used by Mount Wellington during the 1970-1980’s to hold the waste from the mine mill. The waste was usually stored due to the fact that technology is always improving, so the material could be re-treated in the future should the processing techniques allow it, or that is the theory. In 1981 the company operating the mill at the time Billiton Minerals (UK) Ltd, a Shell subsidiary obtained permission to lay a new pipeline from the tailings back to the mill for reprocessing.
The colours here can be spectacular with vivid reds and yellows in the water and surrounding earth created by the minerals still held in the waste. The water within the tailings dam is contaminated with a variety of substances: Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Zinc, Lead and Nickel. This makes a rather unpleasant poison soup that should be avoided.
These images were taken on a summers day in 2013, I will perhaps go back and take a digital image to show the colours around the dam.
Mount Wellington Tailings.1 – This first image is looking at the earth dam from the Twelveheads side, the water here is a very deep red. At the rear is a concrete access ramp for vehicles.
Mount Wellington Tailings.2 – At ground level at the base of the dam, this is looking down the concrete ramp from the previous image.
Mount Wellington Tailings.3 – On the side of the dam there is an access point which would have been used for maintenance when the mine was working.
Mount Wellington Tailings.4 – This image is taken from the other side of the tailings dam. This is one of the overflow weirs in the lagoon used to control the level of water behind the dam.
Mount Wellington Tailings.5 – A wider image showing the second overflow weir, the earth dam behind can be seen clearly.
Mount Wellington Tailings.6 – A closer image of the lower weir, there is an access ladder inside for maintenance purposes.
Mount Wellington Tailings.7 – A wider image of the lagoon looking towards the dam wall, the water here is deep and nasty.
Mount Wellington Tailings.8 – In the foreground a ramp which was used for heavy machinery, now it just leads to the water.
Mount Wellington Tailings.9 – A wide image looking across the lagoon, showing both the overflow weirs and the height of the dam wall behind.
Mount Wellington Tailings.10 – The final image on this page, an overall view of the Wheal Maid Valley showing the size of the tailings dam area, and how scarred the land is from several hundred years of mining.
Wheal Jane Mine