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West Tyrone assembly candidates sign anti-mining pledge

Cormac McAleer has welcomed the signing of an anti-mining pledge by some election candidates in West Tyrone
Connla Young

Eight assembly election candidates in West Tyrone have signed a pledge to "oppose gold mining with its toxic processing plant" in the Sperrin Mountains.

The politicians signed the Save Our Sperrins 'pledge and covenant' at a hustings event in Greencastle this week.

They included Sinn Féin's Declan McAleer and Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey.

Earlier this year Sinn Féin agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill said she shared residents’ concerns over plans to use cyanide to extract gold mined in the area.

SDLP candidate Daniel McCrossan did not take part in the debate while the DUP was also absent.

However, former SDLP members Josephine Deehan and Patsy Kelly signed the document, as did ex-Sinn Fein councillor Sorcha McAnespy.

The Green Party’s Ciaran McClean, Stephen Donnelly of the Alliance Party and Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol representative Barry Brown also gave their support to the pledge.

Up to 200 people attended the event at a local GAA club to hear a panel of politicians discuss local issues including concerns over the gold mine.

Residents were alarmed earlier this year after it emerged that Dalradian Gold Ltd was planning to use cyanide at a planned processing plant to extract gold from ore mined in the Sperrin Mountains.

The ‘Greencastle Pledge and Covenant’ asks candidates to confirm that if elected they “will do everything in my power and to the best of my ability to oppose gold mining with its toxic processing plant, poisonous waste dumps and tailings in the Sperrins Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

Save Our Sperrins spokesman Cormac McAleer last night said it was important to get written support from candidates

“People feel there is a need to have something in writing to remind them and hold them accountable,” he said.

“Previously people have said they were concerned about the mine but up to now it seems Dalradian were getting their own way all the time."

Dalradian first moved into the area in 2010 in search of gold in the hills between Greencastle and the village of Gortin, where it has an office.

Underground exploration began in 2014 and now the Canadian firm wants to locate a mine and processing plant within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Crockanboy Road, which is just outside Greencastle.

A spokeswoman for Dalradian declined to comment yesterday, but it has insisted the use of cyanide is highly regulated and the proposed plant will minimise impacts on the environment and wildlife.

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