Fears over mining plans in Sperrins

In the midst of the rolling hills of the Sperrins in County Tyrone near Greencastle a Canadian Mining Company, Dalradian Gold, intends to undertake largescale gold mining.

Dalradian plan an underground mine that will extract 10 grammes of gold from every ton of rock brought to the surface. The company has received £326,000 for the project from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. The PSNI has spent at least £170,000 protecting the site.

Extensive work has already taken place amid growing fears among local communities of toxic pollution. Among the concerns is the threat to the Owenkillew River, an area designated by the EU as a Special Area of Conservation. It is a breeding site for the critically endangered fresh water pearl muscle, as well as many other species.

The company claims the mining operation will create 400 jobs but refuse to state the nature of the work or the extent of the pay.

Local Workers’ Party representative, Hugh Scullion, has added his voice to calls for a public inquiry into the plans. “The work of the ‘Save Our Sperrins’ group has helped to bring this issue to the fore and their insistence on a public inquiry into plans by mining company Dalraidan Gold is an absolute must and should be undertaken without delay.

“It is almost beyond belief that a mining operation involving the use of cyanide in the extraction process should be allowed to proceed without even a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.”

He added: “The relentless pursuit of profit at any price must be exposed and halted in its tracks. The fact that the DUP, through one of its local Councillors, is supporting the scheme should be sufficient cause for alarm on its own.”

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