Northern Ireland news

PSNI blame republicans for refusal to explain mine costs

A marked PSNI car pictured at the Dalradian mine site near Greencastle last year
Connla Young

POLICE have blamed the threat posed by dissident republicans for refusing to release details of more than £170,000 spent on security measures linked to a gold mining firm in Co Tyrone.

The cost of the ongoing operation at the privately-owned Dalradian site near Greencastle is being footed by the public purse.

Earlier this week residents voiced concern over plans by Dalradian Gold to use cyanide at a proposed processing plant linked to a mine.

Police confirmed on Friday night they escort explosives to the site and provide security at the “point of use”.

However, when asked in a freedom of information request to give a breakdown of how the £170,000 has been spent, the PSNI refused to reveal further details.

“At this time of increased threat of terrorism, releasing a breakdown of the security measures employed at the Dalradian goldmine into the public domain would not be in the public interest as it would adversely affect public safety as well as the course of justice,” it said.

The PSNI went on to say that “criminal elements could use this information to compromise the security of the Dalradian operation and obtain restricted materials”.

Locals say that escort convoys can involve up to 10 vehicles and include helicopter support.

It has also been claimed that police maintain a regular presence around the mine site.

Cormac McAleer, from the Save Our Sperrins campaign, said he believes the total cost of policing could be even higher.

PSNI Superintendent Philip Knox said on Friday night they have “provided advice, guidance and assurance relating to the security infrastructure and explosive storage at the gold mine operated by Dalradian”.

“PSNI have no role in the provision of security to Dalradian or to their site infrastructure," he said.

The officer added that police have “a role in the escorting of commercial explosives across Northern Ireland and in the security of commercial explosives at point of use”.

“This is a role currently undertaken by PSNI at this specific mine and at every other commercial mine and quarry within Northern Ireland."

The PSNI revealed plans last year to charge organisers for attending charity and sporting events including GAA matches, concerts, and fundraisers.

Supt Knox confirmed that they are in discussions with Dalradian and Stormont departments about how it can contribute to “the associated costs, but balancing that with consideration to local economic and employment interests".

A spokeswoman for Dalradian said police providing security for escorting explosives was standard practice.

She confirmed the company has made no financial contribution towards the cost and this was also standard practice.

“However, the company has invested £50 million to date in the project," she said.

The spokeswoman said the firm employs 55 people on site, around half of which are local, and another 60 through contractors.

She added that many suppliers and contractors are also local and that the firm has made “a substantial contribution to the local economy”.

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