The Welsh mine that produced the gold used for Queen Elizabeth’s wedding ring in 1947 and Princess Diana’s in 1998 is set to reopen after nearly 20 years.
The Times reported that the Clogau St David’s Mine at Bontddu in north ceased operations in 1998 but that it has now been identified as having “expansion potential,” with the possibility that there are unworked veins to be discovered.
Alba Mineral Resources, which has taken a 49 percent stake in Clogau’s owner, Gold Mines of Wales Limited, will reopen the mine this year.
“The opportunity presented by this project is pretty unique — high-grade gold in the heart of the United Kingdom, and the fact that Welsh gold attracts a significant premium,” George Frangeskides, the Alba executive chairman, said.
He said that 80,000oz of gold had been found in the Dolgellau belt in its history and the mine and surrounding area had the potential to produce “bonanza high-grade gold pockets.”
Such is the scarcity of Welsh gold that it can be valued at up to 30 times more than standard gold. It is found in only two areas, Dolgellau in Snowdonia and Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire, where mining is thought to have been started by the Romans 2,000 years ago and archaeological evidence points to some form of extraction during the Bronze Age.
Clogau gold has a unique pink tinge because it is stained by the copper ore also found in the mine, making it particularly rare.
The tradition of using gold from Clogau St David’s for royal wedding rings began with the Queen Mother, then Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, in 1923. Since then it has also been used for the rings of Princess Margaret in 1960 and the Princess Royal in 1973. After Diana’s wedding there was only a tiny piece left. However, in the 1980s the Royal British Legion presented the Queen with a 1.2 oz nugget of 21-carat Welsh gold — thought to be a mixture of Clogau gold and gold from other Welsh mines — for future royal weddings.
It was used for Sarah Ferguson’s wedding to Prince Andrew in 1986, for Sophie Rhys-Jones’s wedding to Prince Edward in 1999, for Camilla Parker Bowles’s wedding to the Prince of Wales in 2005, and Prince William’s to Catherine Middleton in 2011, although William does not wear a wedding ring.