Levant Mine is situated in the St Just Mining District, one of the most ancient hard-rock tin and copper mining areas in Cornwall. Here the majority of principal sites lie within a well-defined spectacular coastal belt 3.5 miles long by approximately 1.25 miles wide. Copper and tin have been won here for countless generations and miners have even sunk shafts and driven levels out beneath the ocean bed.
Most of the Land’s End Peninsula consists of granite, a coarsely crystalline igneous rock, formed deep in the earth around 280 million years ago. North-east from Cape Cornwall dark-coloured slate and volcanic rocks comprise much of the rugged cliffscape. Within both the granite and these older rocks near-vertical veins (lodes) containing tin and copper, formed at right angles to the cliffs. The pursuit of these lodes beneath the bed of the Atlantic Ocean challenged the skills of the Cornish miner and brought worldwide fame to the St Just Mining District. Levant Mine and the nearby Botallack Mine were the most successful of these famous submarine enterprises. The lodes in the St Just Mining District were nearly vertical (dipping at 70° to 80°) and narrow (less than a metre). They often contained mixed ores of tin, copper and arsenic, with ore grades that were much above the average for Cornish mines.
Part of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining World Heritage Site, Levant has the only Cornish beam engine anywhere in the world that is still in steam on its original mine site. The site is owned by the National Trust and the famous Levant engine is housed in a small engine house perched on the edge of the cliffs. Restored after 60 idle years by a group of volunteers known as the ‘Greasy Gang’, the engine is in steam regularly throughout the summer months.
As well as visiting the engine house, a short trail has been established that visits other points of interest. There are also cliff-top walks to the mines to the north (Geevor) and south (Botallack).