LONDON (Reuters) - Connemara Mining’s (CON.L) newly appointed CEO expects fresh drilling this month to kickstart projects in Ireland, where zinc and gold exploration has been revived by a recovery in commodity prices.
Patrick Cullen, a geologist with experience at big resource companies including Schlumberger (SLBG34.SA) and AngloGold (ANGJ.J), returned to his native Ireland to become CEO of London-listed Connemara in August.
In the four weeks after his appointment Connemara’s share price rose by about 40 percent and is up 86 percent this year as its main prospects - zinc and gold - have rallied.
Cullen said that he aims to take advantage of “a general upsurge in interest in exploration and mining in Ireland, with zinc prices that have reached their highest level in a decade and robust demand for gold”. CMZN3XAU=
Drilling was expected this month, he said, to verify the extent of a gold find in Donegal and the company aims to accelerate activity more widely with joint venture partners.
Last week Group Eleven, a private company that has announced plans to float in Canada this year, acquired the interest held by Teck Ireland (TECKb.TO) in the Stonepark zinc project in Limerick.
Connemara holds nearly a quarter of the project and Group Eleven the remaining stake.
Cullen said that is positive because he expects Group Eleven to be more active than Teck was in developing Connemara’s flagship zinc property. The site is neighbour to Glencore’s (GLEN.L) Pallas Green prospect, one of the world’s largest undeveloped zinc projects.
Almost no exploration took place during the commodity price crash that ended early last year, but Connemara said that drilling rigs are now working the site. Glencore declined to comment.
Apart from zinc and gold, Connemara is investigating Ireland’s lithium potential, attracted by expected demand growth for use in batteries to power electric vehicles.
Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by David Goodman