Copper Mine

Copper Mine Virgin Gorda National Park

The Copper Mine is in Virgin Gorda’s National Park, the mines are now ruins of an abandoned 19th-century copper mine.  The story goes, that the shafts were dug by Spanish adventurers to mine silver in the late fifteenth century, but no documentary evidence can be found to support this theory.  There is no firm evidence of Spanish occupation of the islands prior to the Dutch settlement exists, much less the size of settlement which would be needed to sink shafts.

After the islands came under British control, the Copper Mine was constructed in 1837.  It’s first shaft was sunk in 1838. In two separate periods over the next 24 years, 36 Cornish miners extracted Ore from this site with the aid of some 140 British Virgin Islands workmen. The Ore which was extracted was sent by road to Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda, along Coppermine Road which was originally built by the miners.  Then by ship to Wales.  The returning ships would carry provisions, wood for construction, wages for the workers, coal with which to power their steam engine.

The mine was abandoned in 1862 & was never reopened, parts of the original stack, the engine house, the main building are all that remain. Several of the Cornish miners started families with native women & descendants still live in the Virgin Islands today.

No plans are known to exist, but records in 1869 say they were at a depth of 40 fathoms, which is around 240 feet & that the levels extended under the sea.

Restoration works began in 1998 to stabilise the ruins, with the assistance of experts from Cornwall in the UK.  Mine Hill is also a habitat for the White-tailed tropicbirds, these birds nest in the rocky cliff by the sea.  They dive into the sea to feed on marine species, like squid.