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CONSERVING NATURE'S LITTLE SECRETS SINCE 1961

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Copper Mine Point National Park 

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

History

This prominent landmark dominates Mine Hill, on the cliffs of the southeastern tip of Virgin Gorda.  

Surrounding the Copper Mine ruins there are many granite rock outcroppings, with additional deposits of quartz, feldspars, tin, copper and other clay minerals.

This abandoned copper mine played an important role in the history of Virgin Gorda. Spaniards passing through the BVI were the first Europeans to mine copper here in the early 18th century. Following a decline in mineral deposits in Cornwall, England in the  1800s, Cornish miners built the structure of which the  ruins remain today. The mine closed in 1862, due to escalating expenses and low market prices.

There were 130 Cornish labourers and their families living on Virgin Gorda during this time. The ruins of their housing area and the operating center, containing the powerhouse, mine shafts, cistern, engine house and chimney are still visible, scattered across the slopes.

Long before the Cornish and Spanish miners arrived, Amerindians also used the area for copper.  The copper was used to make tools and jewelry which were traded with other indigenous peoples from other islands.

Restoration works began in 1998 to stabilise the ruins, with the assistance of experts from Cornwall, England.   

Mine Hill is also a habitat for the White-tailed tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus) that nest in the rocky cliff crevices by the sea close to the southeastern corner of the Cornish Engine House.  Departing from their seaside nests, they dive from incredible heights in order to feed on marine species, such as squid.  

Park Information

Established: 1998

Area: 31.93 acres

Photos

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