LONDON (Reuters) - Canadian miner Dalradian Resources has filed a planning application and secured a new tranche of funds to build Northern Ireland’s first major underground gold mine, with the potential to create hundreds of jobs.
Mining has largely died out in Britain, but the sector sees the potential for a revival as the government pushes an industrial strategy to reboot an economy overshadowed by the decision to leave the European Union. It is also seeking to create jobs beyond the most affluent London area.
Dalradian, which is listed in Toronto and on London’s AIM, acquired mineral rights in 2009 to more than 80,000 hectares of land in Northern Ireland, including the Curraghinalt gold deposit.
Since then it has carried out exploratory drilling at Curraghinalt and compiled a planning application running to 10,000 pages, which it expects to take about two years to process, including a public enquiry.
On Monday it announced that it had submitted the planning application and secured an extra 78.25 million Canadian dollars ($61.6 million) in funding from Orion Mine Finance and Osisko Gold Royalties, two big North American mine finance companies.
“We have transformed the project from a small early-stage deposit to one of the best gold projects on the planet,” CEO Patrick Anderson said.
Anderson is not worried about any issues involving the Northern Irish border or Brexit negotiations more generally, he said, adding that he believes engagement with local people had overcome opposition, including from environmental campaigners.
The application is for Dalradian to run the proposed mine for an initial 20 years, though the company says it has the potential to produce gold for decades longer.
It is already employing 100 people on the project and the number would rise to 350 direct jobs once the mine is operating, plus hundreds more indirect jobs, including those in supply chains.
Northern Ireland has one producing gold mine in Omagh, owned and operated by Galantas Gold Corporation, listed on the TSX Venture Exchange and on AIM.
Galantas, which is also ramping up underground operations after the open-pit site was exhausted, has said it expects to produce about 8,000 ounces next year.
Dalradian said its Curraghinalt project has the potential for output more than 10 times the Galantas mine’s current production.
($1 = 1.2702 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by David Goodman