Northern Ireland news

Public inquiry should be held into Co Tyrone gold mine, Sinn Féin MLA says

Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of gold could be excavated from a mine in the Sperrins in Co Tyrone every year. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

A PUBLIC inquiry should be held into plans for a gold mine in Co Tyrone, a Sinn Féin MLA has said.

Declan McAleer said he has asked his party colleague, infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard, to hold an inquiry into the project in the Sperrin Mountains, near the villages of Greencastle and Gortin.

Some residents are opposed to the mine and plans to build a processing plant that will use cyanide to extract gold.

Dalradian Gold, a Canadian firm behind the scheme, has insisted the use of cyanide is highly regulated and the plant will minimise any impact on the environment and wildlife.

However Mr McAleer, an MLA for West Tyrone, said the plans had "caused widespread concern among the community".

"The proposed plant is only 1,200 metres from the local primary school and GAA pavilion and people are deeply dissatisfied that the company did not host a public consultation in Greencastle village which is more accessible than the consultation they held in their plant on Camcosy Road," he said.

"This deterred a lot of people from attending the event and I have spoken to people who did attend and they were disappointed by the level of information they received. Most reported that they did not get their questions answered.

"In light of fears about the impact of this proposal on public health and the environment, combined with the strong opinion that people cannot get satisfactory answers from the company involved and the unprecedented nature of this proposal, I believe that a public inquiry is necessary."

However, Dr Anne Monaghan, the company's director of stakeholder engagement, last night said it has held several consultation events and people can provide feedback online.

"Dalradian commenced the consultation process in January when we held five consultation events," she said.

"We recently held two further consultation events with over 270 people attending. The purpose of these most recent events was to present further information on the project, including the Environmental Impact Assessment, and to seek feedback.

"That feedback is important and will be considered in the Pre-Application Community Consultation Report (PACC) to be lodged with our planning application.

"For those unable to attend the Public Information Events we would encourage you to review our plans online at: www.dalradianni.com where you can provide feedback. Once the planning application is submitted there is another opportunity for people to give their views on the proposals."

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