It’s an area known for its rich scenery of mountains, glens and lochs.
Now one of Scotland’s most stunning national parks is preparing to open the country’s first goldmine.
The Cononish mine, near Tyndrum in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, is due to start production before the end of November.
It will support dozens of local jobs and is hoped to be the first in a series of sites set up in the coming years.
The company behind the project, Scotgold Resources, is aiming to produce 23,500 troy ounces of gold on average per year and believes it can recover more than 176,000 ounces in total – worth £255million at current prices.
Around 25 per cent of the gold will come out in a form suitable to sell directly on to jewellers – which will be labelled authentic Scottish gold.
Jewellers Sheila Fleet and Hamilton and Inches have already been lined up to buy the first year’s production.
Between 15 and 20 groups have said they are interested in buying the gold, which will have a special stamp on it proving it is from Scotgold’s mine.
Richard Gray, chief executive of Scotgold, said: ‘We believe there’s a huge amount of gold to be found in Scotland, we want to keep exploring and so do others.’
Although many have panned for gold in Scotland’s rivers, this will be its first goldmine and the only working commercial goldmine in Britain.
The region sits on a geological belt containing gold that runs all the way from Scandinavia to Canada, across Scotland and Northern Ireland. Gold was discovered in the area in the 1980s but production got off to a slow start after the price of gold crashed.
Scotgold took over the project in 2007 but failed to secure enough cash to get it going.
But since getting planning permission in 2018 the company said it has been given ‘moral support’ from the Scottish government and was promised a grant of up to £430,000 for job creation. It has also received overwhelming support from residents of the local towns, Tyndrum and Crianlarich.
The mine and the processing plant have been designed to have a minimal impact on the national park, which is home to red deer and has some of the best preserved oak woodlands in Scotland.
The site will use machines operated by people to extract the rock, rather than individuals digging at the walls. It is accessed via a tunnel that has been built into a hill called Beinn Chuirn.
The mine will create more than 60 jobs at the peak of production, which is expected in 2022.
Mr Gray, who has been overseeing the Cononish project since 2014, said: ‘The area is dominated by the tourist trade and as a consequence a lot of the work is seasonal. Mines are where God put the gold – and in this instance it is not the kind of place where people are going to build a car factory.’ He said once the mine starts up the ‘proof will be in the pudding’ and more retail investors will be keen to buy in.
Scotgold is valued at around £65million and is listed on London’s junior market, where it recently raised £3million from shareholders. The mine could generate between £67million and £100million in revenue.