Tyndrum has long been associated with gold mining, but with the mine above Cononish, to the west of Tyndrum, closed for so many years, and the birth of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park – whose boundary just catches the old gold mine and no more – there has been a battle on the hands of developers and interested parties to get a re-opening proposal past the authorities.
Planning authorities were concerned about the environmental impact of gold mining operations, and it was due on environmental conservation grounds that the original planning application – made by owners Scotgold Resources – was rejected. As of October 2011, Scotgold’s second planning application has been approved, signalling a new exciting era in Tyndrum’s gold mining history. In such a gloomy financial climate, gold mining to the value of over 50 million Pounds should be music to the ears of developers, traders and the local economy. Some are, however, still concerned about the impact that gold mining will have on the beautiful Cononish Glen, the traditional route of ascent towards Ben Lui, Ben Oss and surrounding hills.
Balancing these competing views, Linda McKay, the Convenor of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, said that:
“Overall, as a board we understand that there will be a temporary loss to Glen Cononish’s special character, but we have greater confidence that we can secure both long-term conservation gain and economic benefits to the local economy and Scotland.”
All in all, around 820,000 tonnes of soil will be extracted from the hillside above the Cononish Glen, and much of it would end up in the glen itself, at least until mining operations finished. For some, that is a price that should not be paid. For others, the lure of 20,000 ounces of high grade solid gold and 80,000 ounces of high grade solid silver outweighs what they see to be only a temporary environmental impact. Either way, Tyndrum is seeing its gold mining history books re-opened, for the writing of a new chapter.
With all that gold and silver lingering in the hills around the Cononish Glen, there is hope, too, for the gold prospector. Gold panning is a technique used to retrieve gold flowing down streams and shallow rivers, whereby a pan is used to separate gold from small stones and other material flowing downstream. Most of the time it will be lead and pyrite (so called “Fool’s Gold”) that will land in the prospector’s pan, but it won’t be the fool who finds him or herself with a nugget of gold fresh from the Tyndrum Hills. With gold prices at an historic all-time high, there has never been a better time to invest in gold – or maybe better still, to catch it.
As gold mining operations commence and both the local community and the National Park Authority adapt to this renewed activity at the Cononish Gold Mine, hopefully opportunities will arise for gold prospectors and those panning for gold, too. You should await further details from the National Park Authority before wading into the Cononish River (and you do so entirely at your own risk anyway!), but fingers crossed that the green light will be given for gold prospecting in this area. It is certainly an exciting time for Tyndrum and the future of Scottish gold mining.