Developer behind £750m Co Tyrone gold mine prepared for public inquiry
THE Canadian developer behind a controversial Co Tyrone gold mine has welcomed progress as it looks to secure planning permission.
Dalradian submitted a planning application in November 2017 for a £750 million underground gold and silver mine at Curraghinalt in west Tyrone, and the first major review of the proposals has now been completed.
Initial consultation on the 10,000-page application with statutory bodies including the Department for the Economy and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has now concluded.
Dalradian, who have drilled more than 500 boreholes in the area since 2010, will respond later this year, with an additional round of consultation set to follow before an expected public inquiry.
The project has been met with widespread local opposition, but last month received support from the Department for the Economy, with its initial assessment “supportive in terms of its potential economic benefits, skills development and development of our natural resources”.
"From an economic perspective, it is clear that the Curraghinalt Project has the potential to offer significant benefits to the Northern Ireland economy," they said.
Other consultees including the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland and Invest NI have also noted the potential positives to be gained from development.
On Wednesday environmental campaigner and vocal opponent Cormac McAleer was arrested after an incident at the gold mine site near Omagh.
It is understood his car and a waste lorry, which was travelling in the opposite direction, met on a small country road near Rouskey and neither was able to pass.
The arrest came just days after Mr McAleer chained himself to a drill rig at the site in protest.
Dalradian chief executive Patrick F.N. Anderson said they welcome the close scrutiny of their proposals as well as a public inquiry at an "appropriate stage".
“The Department's response clearly sets out the economic benefits which Dalradian's proposals will bring to the local economy. Over the 20-25 year lifespan of the mine we will directly employ at least 350 people with an average salary of £40,000 and spend $1bn through the project's supply chain, with more than 600 indirect and induced jobs being created."
“Dalradian is proposing a safe project that meets or exceeds strict environmental standards. The proposed mine will bring widespread social benefits to the area, including training, investment in technology, skilled, well-paid jobs that will keep families together and young people from emigrating, and support for community projects," he added.
Earlier this week Dalradian announced it is recruiting eight local jobs to work on its latest drilling programme in west Tyrone
The drilling, which involves three rigs, is taking place near the existing gold and silver deposit at Curraghinalt. It will provide further information on the extent and grade of the mineral deposit.
Dalradian already employs 40 people in its Omagh and Gortin offices, but plans to grow this number to 350 should the proposed mine become operational.