The prominent landmark dominates Mine Hill, on the cliffs of the south-eastern tip of Virgin Gorda.
Surrounding the Copper Mine ruins there are many granite rock outcroppings, with additional deposits of quartz, feldspars, tin copper and other clay minerals.
This abandoned copper mine played an important role in the history of Virgin Gorda. Spaniards passing through the BVI were the first Europeans to mine coppers here in the early 18th century. However, Cornish miners built the ruins that remain today in the 1800s, following a decline in mineral deposits in Cornwall, England. The mine closed in 1862 due to escalating expenses and low market prices.
As many as 130 Cornish laborers and their families lived on Virgin Gorda during this time. The ruins of their housing area and the operations center, containing the powerhouse, mine shafts, cisterns, engine house and chimney are still visible scattered across the slopes.
Well before the Cornish and Spanish miners arrived, Amerindians used the area for copper. The copper was used to make tools and jewelry that was traded with other indigenous people from other islands.
Restoration efforts began in 1998 to stabilize the ruins, beginning with the engine house, with the assistance of experts from Cornwall, England.
Mine Hill is also a habitat for the White-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaeton lepturus) that nest in the rocky cliff crevices by the sea close to the southeastern corner of the Cornish Engine House. Departing from their seaside nests, they dive from incredible heights in order to feed on marine species.