How much did the Caradon Mines produce in 1863?


This is the final post of the series explaining some of the facts behind Brenton Symons’ Map of the Liskeard Mining district (1863). In this post it table and charts showing the production and sale of ore.

In 1863 a total of 29,844 tons of ore was produced within the area, over 90% of which was copper. Such large figures are hard to visualise, it would have taken just under 5,000 of the Liskeard and Caradon Railway wagons to transport the ore. The equivalent of over 13 wagons a day would have to have left the district by rail or packhorse. Over the year, about two hundred vessels would have needed to call at the ports of Looe or St. Germans to ship the ore to the smelters.
At this time 21% of Cornwall’s copper ore was being produced by these mines , and 42% of its lead. Devon Great Consols just across the border, in England, produced a massive 26,756 tons in the same year.


This pie chart shows the tonnage of copper produced in 1863 by the largest mines. On face value it shows a relatively even spread of output between four of the mines. But pure tonnage is deceptive, as the next chart shows.


This diagram displays the price per ton of  the copper ore.  South Caradon’s richness in ore quality is plain to see in these figures. It was this richness that would maintain the mine’s dominance in the area, and make it one of the best performing mines of the decade in Cornwall.


East Caradon was relatively new producer in the area in 1863, and it had a high productivity in both tonnage and sales.
Marke Valley was known for being “behind the times” in its operation, and yet, it appears to have had a high productivity in respect of ore production. Its lower performance in monetary terms is a reflection the mine’s poor quality of ore.

£50 per employee appears to be the profitability level. Both West Caradon and Craddock Moor Mines struggled to keep dividends in payment, with productivity below this £50 per employee level.


This table shows the price of a ton of copper ore at an assumed “standard” of quality. It gives an indication of the prices mines would receive from their ore sales.
The rapid drop in February was a result of the smelters dropping prices after claiming that there was a “smallness of demand”. An upturn occurred later in the year caused by a drought in the copper producing country of Chile, coupled with  an increase in demand from the USA. Nothing in this graph forecasted the price plummet that was to hit copper prices in the crash of 1866.

To learn more about the Liskeard, Caradon and Menheniot mining district in 1863 see my books:

The Liskeard Mining District in 1863 (Kindle)

History and Progress of Mining in the Liskeard and Caradon District, 1863, By William Webb, Edward Geach and John Manley. (paper back)

The Last Great Cornish engineer (paperback)

William West of Tredenham (Kindle)

Click here to buy the books on my Amazon store.

If you are visiting the area, then pop into the Bookshop on the Parade, Liskeard to buy the paperbacks.



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