Rural communities in the Greencastle area of Co Tyrone are up in arms at plans by a Canadian company – Dalradian Gold Ltd – to extract gold from a 200 acre site in the region.
According to Bernie Fox, vice chair of the recently established GRG Concerned Community Group - representing families and farmers in the Greencastle, Rousky and Gortin areas, the operation will entail the use of Cyanide in the extraction process.
“Dalradian only confirmed this state of affairs three weeks ago, as they sought to secure full planning permission for the project.
“If allowed, this will result in the creation of a toxic dump on our doorsteps. The land purchased by Dalradian lies close to a number of rivers and watercourses. All it would take is a single accident to blight one of the most picturesque areas of Co Tyrone for ever
“The site purchased by Dalradian is directly adjacent to an area of outstanding natural beauty.”
Mr Fox confirmed that all of the residents in the area are totally opposed to the Dalradian project.
“We want it stopped. There is a level of fear, anger and tension never before experienced in this community, where many have said they would leave this area if this goes ahead. The threat to our farming community and their livelihoods, is very real.”
Agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill visited the Greencastle area earlier this week, where she met with concerned residents.
Discussion centred on how plans by Dalradian may impact on local agriculture and environment.
“The community of Greencastle have been raising their concerns about plans by Dalradian Gold with my party colleague Declan McAleer MLA and I am pleased to have met with residents today to discuss those concerns further,” said Ms O’Neill.
“Dalradian Gold began underground exploration for gold in County Tyrone in 2014 and has now outlined its intention to locate a mine and processing plant within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, just outside Greencastle.
“The Company has confirmed that it intends to use cyanide at its processing plant to separate the gold from ore. As Minister of Agriculture I share the concerns of local residents regarding the potential negative impact that this process will have on farmers, rural dwellers and our environment.”
Farming Life has been informed that the Michelle O’Neill intends taking the matter up with Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.
A spokesperson from Dalradian said: “This project will help reinvigorate industry in Northern Ireland. Dalradian would employ at least 200 people during construction and 200 during the mine’s operation over a period of up to 20 years.
“The skills this mine will develop can provide well paid jobs for generations, contributing to building a sustainable economy in the region and especially in the West.
“Proactive consultation will continue over the next few months after which a final design will be presented to the community in the summer of 2016. The planning application will be submitted in the autumn.
“Throughout this time Dalradian will continue to engage with members of the community and politicians at the local and national level to ensure we’re delivering a sustainable plan which both protects this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and creates hundreds of new jobs.
“An independent team of experts is conducting a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which will detail mitigation measures on impacts to landscape, water, soil, climate, air quality, noise, and traffic, among others.
During both the construction and operation of the mine Dalradian will be conforming to the highest environmental standards, going above and beyond what is legally required. During operations all surface water will be tested and if necessary treated before leaving the site.
“We understand community concerns around cyanide. It is consequently one of the most highly regulated substances in the world and is used safely in many industrial applications, not just mining. Dalradian is voluntarily opting into the International Cyanide Management Code. In our process, we will reduce the concentration to less than what you’d find in a handful of almonds.”