FAQ

About Dalradian

Who is Dalradian?

Dalradian Gold Limited is a mineral exploration and development company. We have been working on the Curraghinalt gold and silver deposit in West Tyrone, Northern Ireland since late 2009. In this time, we have progressed from exploration to quantifying the amount of gold, to preliminary engineering studies, to an economic feasibility study and an environmental assessment. In November 2017, we submitted a Planning Application to build an underground mine. We have a total workforce of approximately 70 in Tyrone and are one of the area’s largest employers. There is also a small office in Canada with 5 staff.

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How many other mines does Dalradian own and operate?

None. Curraghinalt is our sole focus. However, our management team has global experience in exploration, discovery, finance, development and mine operations.

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Is Dalradian mining already?

No. We tested mining methods as part of our exploration and produced a small quantity of Tyrone gold from our bulk sample. We then submitted a Planning Application for an underground mine and associated surface infrastructure in November 2017. The proposed mine was designated a regionally significant project and, as such, the Planning Application is being dealt with by the Department for Infrastructure.

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How do I get on one of the Tunnel Tours?

We have toured more than 1,500 people through our exploration site, including the tunnels where the gold veins can be viewed. Contact our Gortin Office on Tel: +44 (0) 2881 648012 or by email at info@dalradian.com to secure your spot.

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The Curraghinalt Project

Where is the Curraghinalt Project ?

It is located in between the villages of Gortin and Greencastle in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The mine will be underground, and the proposed site for the new surface infrastructure is situated north of Crockanboy Road between Rouskey and Greencastle. We have applied to the Department for Infrastructure to retain the existing site, which is located on Camcosy Road, approximately two miles from Rouskey.

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What will the surface infrastructure for the proposed mine look like?

The buildings will be placed within fields enclosed by rows of existing trees. The largest building (the process plant) will measure 58 metres wide, 92 metres long and 17 metres high. All of the buildings will be built and painted to blend in with the local agricultural buildings. There will also be a Dry Stack Facility located on the surface (see the next two questions for more details). Read an article about surface infrastructure and visual impact.

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What is the Dry Stack Facility (DSF)?

The Dry Stack Facility will house any rock which cannot be put back underground (we estimate that about 70% will remain underground) and some of the dry stack tailings, which are like a wet sand. The DSF is an engineered, designed feature that will be lined, contoured into the landscape, covered in soil and progressively seeded as more material is laid down, so that it is stable and blends in with the surrounding natural landscape. A mine in southern Alaska with higher annual rainfall than Tyrone has been using dry stack tailings for more than 10 years in a National Monument nature preserve. Read more about dry stack tailings.

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What happens when mining is over?

When the mine closes, the surface buildings will be removed and the groundworks contoured and planted. From commencement, the Dry Stack Facility will be consolidated and engineered to ensure stability. It will also be progressively seeded starting from Year One. These activities will be set out in a Closure Rehabilitation Plan, which will be agreed by the Department for Infrastructure.

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Will Dalradian be processing material from outside the area in the processing plant?

No. We will only process material at the plant that is sourced from our mine. Our Planning Application does not include a proposal to import ore from elsewhere and the processing plant is only designed to take production from Curraghinalt.

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Geology

How much gold is there?

It is estimated that Curraghinalt contains over 6 million ounces of gold. The deposit is still open in all directions (in other words, the ends of it have not been found). Read more about our resources.

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How long will the gold last?

The Planning Application for the proposed mine is for a specific amount of mining that will be done over approximately 20 years. Similar gold deposits in Canada are in operation for decades or generations, as more gold is discovered. However, any mining in addition to what is in the current proposal would require a new planning permission.

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How did you find the gold?

The discovery of the Curraghinalt gold-silver deposit pre-dates our involvement. Gold and silver have been known about in the area for generations. In the 1980s, prospectors noticed veins in an outcrop in the Curraghinalt Burn and they took a rock chip sample from it. This sample was analysed and was found to contain gold. Follow-up exploration, including drilling, showed that there were a number of gold-bearing veins that continued to depth. Further exploration at that time included the development of some of the tunnels that still exist today. Since acquiring the project in late 2009, we have grown the size of the known deposit more than ten-fold through exploration, including drilling and further underground development.

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How deep are the veins?

The veins extend from the surface to at least one kilometre in depth. Part of the planning application is to allow for some additional exploration to allow us to investigate the extent of the system.

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Why are veins different widths?

The veins are fractures in the rock that have “healed” with quartz, carbonate and other minerals such as gold. Like any natural system, variability is the norm.

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How long are the veins?

The current extent that has been tested is about 2.3 kilometres long. However, the Curraghinalt vein system has the potential to grow. We hope to explore more of the deposit and that is why we are applying for an underground area for exploration.

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How much tunnelling have you done underground?

We added 959 metres through the underground exploration programme to the pre-existing 710 metres.

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Environment

What does carbon neutral mean?

Carbon neutral means reducing the net amount of carbon emitted to the atmosphere to zero. This can be achieved by removing carbon emissions from our daily activity or by balancing them out using carbon off-setting.

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How will Dalradian achieve carbon neutrality?

We will be 100% carbon neutral from day one by using renewable power, electric vehicles, covered conveyor belts and biodiesel. We will use carbon off-setting to ensure we are fully carbon neutral on an ongoing basis. This is an audited, accredited system that involves independent verification on an annual basis. All of these choices demonstrate our environmental stewardship.

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The proposed mine will be located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (“AONB”). How will the AONB be protected?

The proposed site faces away from the AONB and the main spine of the Sperrin Mountains. Mitigating visual impacts has been a major part of our environmental assessment and studies. Many features of the site lend themselves to reducing visual impact, including existing mature trees and natural hollows. The buildings will be in keeping with the local rural area and will be painted green to blend in with the landscape. Rehabilitation of the site will be ongoing throughout operations and completed when operations are complete with removal of all buildings.

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How can you prevent problems like the Aberfan coal disaster in Wales?

The Aberfan coal mine disaster was caused when unconsolidated material, dumped in a chaotic and unplanned/unregulated manner, was subjected to heavy rainfall, which caused the material to become unstable.

The proposed gold mine is very different from a coal mine and will not have waste tips. Instead, we will use dry stack tailings that are engineered to ensure stability. The material is consolidated, progressively seeded and monitored. As applicable, current legislation also requires periodic geotechnical assessments by qualified specialists.

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How will you protect our rivers from an environmental disaster?

Similar to our existing exploration site, all mine contact water, including rainwater run-off from the proposed infrastructure site, will be channelled and stored in a number of lined storage ponds, which are dug below ground level. The water is then directed to a state-of-the-art water treatment plant. The purpose of the plant is to ensure any discharge water meets or exceeds performance criteria set for it by the Water Management Unit of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA). Water will be treated to drinking water standards as applicable (except for Iron and Manganese which are naturally elevated in the local water environment). Both we and the NIEA will monitor the outlet water quality to confirm compliance.

The water management ponds on site will have an engineered lining system and will operate at around 1/3 of capacity for the storage of water. The remainder of the pond capacity is designed to accommodate a one-in-1,000-years storm event. The ponds will be constructed by excavation and will not rely upon impoundments for water containment. Read more about water protection.

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How is groundwater protected and how can you be sure my well won’t be contaminated?

During operations and for some time following closure, groundwater movement in the vicinity will be towards the mine and not outwards towards any wells. Similar to a quarry, water entering the mine will be captured in sumps and sent to the surface for water quality treatment and/or for use in the processing plant.

All material types to be retained or sent back underground have been subject to prior characterization and will also require laboratory verification testing during operations. Taking into account the proposed mining, backfill and closure strategies, the results from materials characterization tests have been modelled to predict long term water quality in the mine workings after closure and when these eventually flood. Thereafter, known surrounding groundwater seepage rates have been used to predict long term groundwater concentrations adjacent to and downstream of the workings.

Based on this assessment, pollution of groundwater receptors, including wells will not occur.

Our Environmental Statement presents current regional background groundwater quality as a benchmark to compare against future monitoring data. Water quality monitoring within the mine, and in wells installed directly around the mine perimeter, will be used during operations to both progressively confirm actual groundwater quality is as predicted and that agreed limits are not exceeded.

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How is the Dry Stack Facility going to be reinstated?

The Dry Stack Facility will be contoured to fit in with the existing hills around the site, covered in soil and seeded in stages. It is designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

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Will animals be able to graze on the site?

Yes. This is done at a number of reclaimed mine sites in Ireland and worldwide.

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Is the mine and its buildings going to be a blight on the landscape?

Mining will take place underground and therefore will not be visible. Surface infrastructure was planned to minimise visual effects, including the use of existing visual barriers such as trees and new plantings. We also plan to utilise the existing hills and valley to help to integrate the buildings into the landscape. Additionally, we have designed the height and colour of the buildings to be similar to agricultural buildings in the local area.

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What about dust and noise?

There are strict legislative limits relating to dust and noise, and we have designed the project to meet those requirements. For example, we will use water suppression and plantings to control dust. To ensure noise control, we will have trees, sound berms and sound barriers.

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What about the radon gas released by mining?

Radon occurs naturally in the area, and across many other parts of the UK and Ireland, and the emphasis on its safe management is on preventing a build-up in an enclosed space (usually homes or buildings). All our testing shows that the levels occurring at our site, including in any of the waste material, will be well below the regulatory limit. As with all other environmental indicators, testing and regulation will continue going forward.

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How can trees and barriers stop the noise and view of an industrial facility?

We will use a combination of trees, topography and berms to help mitigate visual and noise effects. For example, the road from the portal to the processing plant will have a long hill between it and the valley below. This will decrease the noise of the trucks and block them from view. Another example is the placement of part of the Dry Stack Facility in a natural hollow so that its height will be reduced.

These components and design measures will not stop noise and view of the mine altogether, but will greatly reduce it.

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How will traffic be managed at the mine?

As part of our planning process, independent experts examined the impact to local communities of a rise in the number of vehicles on the road network, especially around the villages of Greencastle, Rouskey and Gortin. During operation of the mine, traffic at the key junctions is expected to increase by no more that 12-14%, which is the equivalent of a driver delay of just under 5 seconds. These numbers do not consider the potential reduction in traffic that could take place if local people who had been commuting to work farther afield worked at the proposed mine instead.

During the construction and operation of the mine, workers will car-share and use park and ride services to attend the site. Shifts will be staggered to avoid traffic build-up at particular peak times, such as during school runs. During operations, there will be an additional 60 cars per day over a 12-hour period.

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Where will your water come from for operations?

100% of the water required for mine operations will be sourced on-site and recycled every day to minimise water use. Rain falling on the site will be captured and stored for use (in a fresh water pond at the northern end of the site) along with water that seeps into the mine workings underground and is pumped to surface (dewatering).  The only requirement for off-site water is for drinking, showers and toilets, which will be supplied by a new mains connection.

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Jobs

How many jobs will the proposed mine create?

The project will create at least 300 jobs during construction (which will last approximately 18 to 24 months). During operations, a total of 1,000 jobs will be created: 350 permanent direct jobs, and 650 indirect (jobs at suppliers to the mine) and induced jobs (employment due to increased spending in the local area). Read more about our future careers.

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Are you recruiting?

We are actively accepting expressions of interest for future positions, but we will not be able to hire a full workforce for construction and operations until planning permission is granted. You can submit your expression of interest at Future Careers , which will assist us in designing our training programmes.

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Can local people get jobs?

Yes, there will be jobs at the proposed mine for a full range of skills – from mechanics and drivers to IT, geologists, engineers and administrators – as well as jobs in health and safety and environmental monitoring and management. Some jobs will require specific qualifications or training, such as university or college diplomas, but for others, short-term educational training and/or on-the-job training will suffice. A full list of jobs can be found at Future Careers.

Our current workforce is made up of people primarily from Tyrone and neighbouring counties.

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Can training be acquired in the next few years to be ready for employment when you get planning permission?

Yes. We have engaged with South West College to implement training programmes that meet the skill requirements needed to work on the project. We have invested in career planning through the development of a number of existing local staff. This is something that will continue throughout the planning process. We have budgeted £30 million to support training of local people. Our internship programme has already provided invaluable work experience to university students in relevant disciplines. Wherever possible, we have hired those students as full-time employees. We will be able to expand this programme significantly when the mine becomes operational.

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Are there any training courses in local colleges for working underground?

We are working with South West College on training programmes, including a programme to train future miners.

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How much will a worker at the mine earn?

The average salary at the mine will be £40,000, nearly double the average wage in Northern Ireland.

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Will there be permanent jobs or will you use temporary contracts?

We will use primarily permanent full-time contracts during operations. We want to be a flexible employer that looks after its workforce. The issuing of permanent full-time contracts is a part of our retention plan.

There are two phases to the project: the first is construction and the second is operation of the mine. We estimate the construction of the project to take 18 to 24 months. Operations are expected to last approximately 20 years and could be longer, depending on the success of future exploration.

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What is the minimum age for working at an underground mine?

Underground mine workers must be 18 years of age or over.

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Will there be summer work for students?

Yes. We hire student interns each summer and plan to continue throughout construction and operations. To apply, fill out the Future Careers form.

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Economic Benefits

What are the main social and economic benefits of the proposed mine?

  • Total employment boost of some 1,000 jobs
    • Direct employment of at least 350 permanent jobs
    • 455 indirect jobs at our suppliers
    • 165 induced jobs from increased spending in the area due to higher salaries
  • Average salary of £40,000, nearly twice the average salary in Northern Ireland
  • Stemming the outflow of young talent from the West of Northern Ireland
  • A range of jobs and skills to increase opportunities in West Tyrone
  • Social cohesion: opportunity to reverse, in part, rural decline
  • Work that does not involve substantial commuting time or working away from home
  • Training and skills development, including course development with South West College and internships
  • More than £750 million in spending to build and operate the mine, creating supplier opportunities in Tyrone and Northern Ireland
  • Brexit-proof project – you can’t move a mine!
  • 2.4% reduction in Northern Ireland's trade deficit
  • £360 million capital investment over the life of mine
  • £4 million community fund commitment to support social and environmental projects
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What is the Feasibility Study?

The Feasibility Study outlines the economics of the proposed mine, including employment and taxes. The full report was released in January 2017.

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Why is there a longer mine life in the Planning Application than in the Feasibility Study?

The Planning Application, which is a document intended for government, community and other local stakeholders, was prepared by technical experts to comply with regulatory requirements and environmental and planning regulations. However, it is different from the scientific and technical information in the Technical Report, which was prepared by “qualified persons” in accordance with Canadian securities law requirements of NI 43-101 and depicts a mine life of 10.3 years and anticipated production of 1.36 million ounces of gold. The two documents have different purposes and audiences.

The project as described in the Planning Application is based on the Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources, thereby increasing the mine life to 20-25 years and showing anticipated production of approximately 3.5 million ounces of gold. The Planning Application also correspondingly depicts the likely significant effects of a longer mine life.

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Will cash and profits generated be transferred out of Northern Ireland?

Some of the cash generated will be transferred out of Northern Ireland but the majority will remain. The economics of mining at Curraghinalt were determined through the Feasibility Study. A majority of the costs of mining and processing the gold will be spent in Northern Ireland. Typically, the biggest costs are labour, fuel and electricity. Taxes and royalties will also be paid. Some money will be reinvested for exploration to increase the life of the mine and to support operations, including new equipment and replacement parts each year.

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What is the Crown Estate?

Please visit the Crown Estate's FAQ page for more information.

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What taxes will Dalradian pay?

Dalradian will be paying the same taxes as any other business in Northern Ireland.

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Will Dalradian be required to post a bond to ensure the cost of closing the mine is covered?

Yes, a financial guarantee is a requirement to receive planning permission.

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What is gold worth?

Gold is currently worth over £1,200 per ounce. The price of gold can vary daily and is influenced by world markets.

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What is the Tyrone Fund?

The Tyrone Fund was established by Dalradian in December 2015 for the benefit of the local community. The Company makes contributions to the fund on an annual basis. A committee meets twice per year to decide on applications for funding. In the Planning Application, Dalradian has committed to an enlarged fund once operations begin. Read more about our current and future support for community projects.

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Operations

How many drill rigs work on the project?

This varies, but we have had up to seven on the surface at any one time. During the underground exploration, as many as three drill rigs were operational underground at one time.

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Will you still need to employ drill rigs once the mine is operational?

Yes. During the life of mine, we will need to drill around the project – on the surface and underground – to further define the deposit.

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What is backfilling?

Backfilling is placing materials (rock and/or tailings) into voids that we have excavated underground. Backfilling enhances our ability to mine the full mineral deposit by maximizing underground stability. Backfilling also minimises the material that is stored on the surface and reduces our footprint.

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What is paste-backfill?

Paste-backfill is primarily a mixture of material from the mill (tailings that don’t contain gold) and cement. It is used to fill and restore the voids underground created by mining. It has a similar consistency to mortar or plaster but with more flowing characteristics, allowing it to be pumped back into the narrow stopes (mined areas).

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How are explosives managed?

Explosives are highly regulated by both the Health and Safety Executive and the Department of Justice as to transport; amounts stored, where and for how long they’re kept; record keeping; use; and storage. We adhere to the guidelines set by the regulators. During operations, explosives will be stored and used underground.

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Mining and Processing

How will Dalradian mine for gold?

The veins that hosts the gold will be drilled and then blasted. These are narrow veins that are typically less than 1 metre wide (i.e., less than the width of a kitchen table). The veins are tens of metres apart.

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How does the processing work?

Mined rock is first reduced in size by crushing underground. After sorting, the crushed ore, containing gold, will be conveyed to surface and on to the mill building where it is then mixed with water and ground to the size of sand.  The metals are then separated out in flotation tanks to produce a concentrate. This concentrate, which contains gold and other minerals including silver and copper, will be transported overseas to a facility where the final stage of processing takes place, resulting in refined gold.

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Why did Dalradian remove the use of cyanide from their process?

We’ve listened to feedback we received during the planning process and have responded by simplifying the process so that we don’t use cyanide or smelting. We have been doing additional studies and testing over the past 18 months to ensure the project is still viable with these changes and to amend the process.

What we’re doing isn’t new in the UK. Recently two gold mining operations using similar processes have received planning permission in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. In both cases the local authorities supported approval of the project. In fact, the mine in Scotland is sited in a National Park and was supported by the park authorities.

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By not using cyanide, what else changes with the project?

Not using cyanide means that associated infrastructure at the main processing plant building will also be removed; including leach tanks, detox system and the smelting furnace. Gold will no longer be poured on site, and instead the processing plant will produce a partially refined product which will be shipped for further processing overseas. Another consequence is lower water use.

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Will you seek to bring back cyanide once you gain planning permission?

No.

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Where will the soils that will be used for reclamation be stockpiled?

The soils removed to allow for construction of the mine buildings and the Dry Stack Facility will be temporarily placed in piles on site, closest to where they will be used to facilitate replacement and ongoing reclamation.

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How is the Dry Stack Facility reclaimed?

The Dry Stack Facility will be progressively built up layer by layer, gradually covered with soil that has been sourced from the site and then seeded. A conceptual Closure and Rehabilitation plan for the site was submitted to regulators as part of our Environmental Statement. The conceptual plan (which is subject to approval by the Department for Infrastructure) details a range of measures which will leave the site safe and secure, and rehabilitate it for use as either farming and/or heathlands. Read more about rehabilitating the site.

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Planning Application Process

What stage in the planning process are you at?

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) requested Further Environmental Information (FEI) from us and we submitted this information in August 2019. The next step is advertisement, consultation and review of FEI and consultees responses. Following this we expect the DfI to refer the application to the Planning Appeals Commission for a public inquiry.

We’re committed to transparency and engagement and continue to support calls for a public inquiry. It is the best way for a public discussion of the project to take place prior to a decision being made. The public inquiry will deal only with the facts around the planning application.

That way we can emerge from the process with absolute confidence that the project has been thoroughly tested and should go forward. Mines can provide employment for decades to come and we understand that this is a new industry for Northern Ireland so a public inquiry can help with expanding the knowledge around modern mining.

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What is a FEI and what was included in your submission?

A FEI is a request from the Department for Infrastructure for Further Environmental Information. The FEI addresses requests from the regulators for more details on certain aspects of our planning application and matters raised by the public/third-party representations. It also includes a number of enhancements to the project made after listening to feedback during the planning process.

The mine will be 100% carbon neutral from day one. We’ll be using renewable power, electric vehicles, conveyor belts and biodiesel. We’re also committed to protecting water by recycling it within the site and treating it to a very high standard before releasing it from our site. Water demand has been reduced by ~30% and almost all of our water will be sourced on-site. The processing is simplified so we will not be using cyanide or smelting. Instead we’ll produce a partially refined product that will be shipped overseas for further treatment.

We’ve listened and as a result our project has become more environmentally positive.

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When will the mine be operational?

We submitted our Planning Application to build a mine in November 2017. The mine cannot be constructed before the authorities grant planning approval. It is estimated that the planning process (review of the application, consultation and likely a Public Local Inquiry) will take a few years. Read more about the planning process.

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What is the time frame for building and mining?

Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months. After construction is completed, mining is expected to take place for 20-25 years. The mining could be extended, depending on exploration success, but would be subject to additional planning permission.

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What can I do to support the Planning Application?

If you support our plans to build a mine and believe it will be environmentally responsible as well as socially and economically transformative for West Tyrone, express your support to the Department for Infrastructure (“DfI”). You will want to include the specific reasons you support the application. You can do this via our Build a Support Letter tool at http://dalradianni.com/creating-over-350-well-paid-jobs-in-county-tyrone/.

If you wish, you can request that your personal information be withheld from the public planning portal.

Alternately, you may write directly to DfI by email at planning@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk referencing LA10/2017/1249/F, or by post at:

Chief Planner’s Office,
71 Ebrington Square,
Derry-Londonderry,
BT47 6FA

or

Strategic Planning Division,
First Floor,
Clarence Court
10-18 Adelaide Street,
Belfast, BT2 8GB

The community relations team is available at 028 816 47799 to answer any questions you might have.

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What if Dalradian or the project are sold?

In the event of a sale of the project or company, the acquirer would have to adhere to the planning and environmental terms and conditions set by DfI as well as any contracts or agreements that Dalradian has made. They will also have to comply with the requirements of our planning permission to operate the proposed mine.

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Will there be other mines locally? Will Dalradian be able to process material from other locations at the Curraghinalt Mine?

There may be other gold deposits discovered in this area in the future. At this point, it is impossible to predict whether they would be economically viable. Any future mines would also need to move through the planning process before mining could begin. Our current Planning Application only includes processing material from the Curraghinalt gold deposit (i.e., no material may be brought from off-site for processing).

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