PSNI spent almost £500k in less than year on policing gold mine
THE PSNI has spent almost £500,000 policing a controversial goldmine site in the Sperrin Mountains in less than a year.
The privately-owned site is operated by Canadian mining giant Dalradian close to the villages of Greencastle and Gortin in Co Tyrone.
Police said that “cost recovery is ongoing and is currently the subject of ongoing negotiations”.
The force has refused to say how it accumulated the huge bill, claiming that to reveal details could provide information to criminals and paramilitary organisations.
It has previously confirmed it escorts explosives to the site and provides security at the “point of use”.
The latest figures come six months after PSNI first said they were in discussions with Dalradian about how it can contribute to “the associated costs” of policing its operations.
Some residents are bitterly opposed to the mine and plans to use cyanide at a proposed processing plant over fears it will damage their health and the local environment.
Dalradian has insisted the use of cyanide is highly regulated and the plant will minimise impacts on the environment and wildlife.
Details of the costs incurred by the PSNI emerged in a freedom of information request by Friends of the Earth director James Orr.
It shows that between August last year and June this year, £437,610 was spent policing the mine.
“This is over £400,000 for nine months so its realistic to assume the costs are over £1m (since operations began),” Mr Orr said.
“What we see by this type of development is that the community has been left to pay the price.”
Mr Orr believes the mining company should pay its share of the costs.
“These companies are not wealth creators, but wealth extractors and the cost is very high,” he said.
“It’s not just the cost of policing, but the destruction of landscapes and the fracturing of communities.”
In its FOI response, the PSNI said: “The threat level from terrorism in Northern Ireland is currently assessed as severe and the release of any information that could be of use to terrorists or criminals increases the risk of harm to the public.”
A spokeswoman for Dalradian said the firm has “developed a close working relationship with PSNI”.
“Policing is a public service not a private one, and no other business in our sector pays for policing,” she said.
“Instead, they contribute through taxation to the public purse which, in turn, funds the police service.”
The firm added that “escorting explosives is standard practice, and indeed a legal requirement in the extractive industry in Northern Ireland".
“The judgement on what level of policing is appropriate is, rightly, made by PSNI on the basis of public safety,” she said.
The firm said it is normal not to pay security costs.
“We have made no direct financial contribution to this, which is again standard practice within this sector in Northern Ireland,” she said.
“The company has however invested £57 million to date in the project.
“Total investment into the project over the lifetime of the mine is expected to be in excess of hundreds of millions of pounds.”