Opponents of proposed Co Tyrone gold mine walk out of a consultation event
RESIDENTS opposed to a planned gold mining plant in Co Tyrone have walked out of a consultation event in the Sperrin Mountains.
Dozens of objectors took part in a short peaceful protest outside the Dalradian consultation near Rouskey in Co Tyrone on Saturday.
The Canadian firm wants to build a processing plant which will use cyanide to extract gold from ore mined locally.
Some residents are bitterly opposed to the plan on health and environmental grounds.
As part of the planning process the mining firm is required to carry out a consultation exercise and organised two sessions at a site owned by it in the Sperrins after a community group declined to allow it to use its premises in the nearby village of Rouskey.
Some residents had voiced concerns about the location of the exhibition ahead of the event.
The PSNI were present outside the consultation site while several police vehicles circled the area.
Residents gathered in the grounds of Greencastle GAA club before making their way to the consultation venue which is located on a small country lane.
After initially entering an industrial unit being used to host the consultation, those involved in the protest then staged a walkout.
There were several tense exchanges between members of the public and Dalradian representatives as people made their way out of the building.
After holding a short protest outside the crowd dispersed.
Those attending included Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer and Saoradh representatives, some who were the focus of a stop and search operation shortly after leaving the protest.
Video footage taken by onlookers during the incident appears to show residents questioning police about their operation in Greencastle.
Cormac McAleer from the Save Our Sperrins campaign group described the protest as a success.
“Hopefully it will send out a clear message to Dalradian, ‘you need to take it seriously,’” he said.
“This is a strategic planning project.
“There is a much wider area of people affected by this and they should be part of the consultation.”
Dalradian officials confirmed that a final environmental impact assessment for the project has not yet been completed.
Managing director Brian Kelly said that the planning application for the project should be submitted early next year.
“It will go into the planning process and it will then go through the planners and different government agencies and statutory consultees as well as the public and like any application it should then be judged on its merits,” he said.