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Gold mining in county Tyrone, Ireland


Canadian Company,  Dalradian, proposes to establish a gold mining ‘camp’ on the Green Road in Greencastle, Omagh, Co Tyrone, Ireland.  It will involve: a mine 1,000 metres deep;  a cyanide processing plant; a toxic waste dump bigger than the whole of Greencastle Village(including Maryville); several poisonous tailings ponds;   a huge tunnel through Crockanboy Hill (5m x 5m) and other infrastructure.   Mining companies such as Dalradian are willing to spend millions of dollars and make endless promises to obtain this ‘social licence’. They send agents (Community Liaison Officers) into the area to befriend people, bringing gifts to get people on side eg. Dalradian have given out £126,000 in ‘gifts’ to groups, clubs and organisations in order to ‘buy’ their support or silence.   However, in doing this,  they have caused divisions within communities and families.

Underground exploration began in 2014 and now the Canadian firm wants to locate a mine and processing plant within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) located in the Sperrin Mountains.In recent years residents have voiced concern about the potential impact the mining project may have on the environment.

Cormac McAleer from the Save Our Sperrins campaign group said many people are opposed to the plan.

“Local people are waiting with some dread about the actual detail of the Dalradian proposal to be finalised,” he said. “In the meantime people want to see the interests of the local population and environment come ahead of the profits of the Canadian (company).” He added that the concerns go beyond the potential use of cyanide and include the impact of dust and noise on people living in the district.

Dalradian has held several meetings with residents in Greecastle, Gortin and the hamlet of Rousky, which sits between the two, to outline their plans.

Under planning laws it is required to carry out consultation prior to submitting an application, which the firm expects to be lodged in the next autumn (2016).

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Gold mining in county Tyrone, Ireland
Country:United Kingdom
State or province:Northern Ireland
Location of conflict:Greencastle/ Gortin
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Specific commodities:Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Work at the site by Dalradian has included drilling, logging and assaying over 50,000 metres of core. It has also launched an "underground exploration programme", which involved up to 2,000m of underground development.

Work to date has focused in and around Curraghinalt, including more than 130,000 metres of drilling, underground channel sampling, interpretation of soil geochemistry girds, sampling of historic core, metallurgical testing, underground development and exploration and permitting. In addition, the Company is currently engaged in a Feasibility Study on Curraghinalt, including engineering and mine planning studies.

Curraghinalt hosts a NI 43-101 compliant resource consisting of:

Measured: 25,000 ounces of contained gold (0.03 million tonnes at 26.99 g/t gold)

Indicated: 2.07 million ounces of contained gold (5.58 million tonnes at 11.53 g/t gold)

Inferred: 2.31 million ounces of contained gold (7.13 million tonnes at 10.06 g/t gold)

Project area:80,000
Level of Investment:72,760,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2,000
Start of the conflict:2014
Company names or state enterprises:Dalradian Resources from Canada - Mining company
Relevant government actors:Department of the Environment (Northern Ireland)
Invest NI
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Friends of the Earth NI
Save Our Sperrins (SOS)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills, Waste overflow, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsNegative impact on the small tourist industry


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:So far the project goes ahead. However by 2016 campaigners have managed to generate a shift in the public opinion.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Ten fundamental concerns raised by FoE NI in relation to the processing of the planning application for a Gold mine near Gortin, Co Tyrone

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

On the interest by investors

Column written by local intellectual and politician Eamon McCann

Situation explained in the Irish News

How attractive the project was for investors

Other documents

Ten fundamental concerns raised by FoE NI in relation to the processing of the planning application for a Gold mine near Gortin, Co Tyrone Document released pointing at a number of environmental issues that could undermine the permission approval

Ten fundamental concerns raised by FoE NI in relation to the processing of the planning application for a Gold mine near Gortin, Co Tyrone Document raising environmental issues against permission to go ahead with the mine

Meta information

Contributor:Alfred Burballa Noria
Last update18/08/2019



Save Our Sperrins

Street protest with activists holding the banner of the campaign Save Our Sperrins