Update on the Proposed Destructive Mining in the Sperrin Mountains


Sperrin Mountains.jpg


In July we posted an article by Sr Majella McCarron OLA about the destructive mining proposed in Co Tyrone, and the importance of a critical response from the Catholic bishops. Events move quickly, and the planning application for the gold mine has been changed considerably with the removal of the proposed cyanide processing plant. This cyanide processing plant had proved a major contention and a concern for the local community.

Dalradian Gold, the Canadian mining company involved, issued a press release on 13th August 2019 outlining proposed changes to its plans, including the decision not to use a cyanide processing plant on site. Instead, they state that simplified processing will yield a partially refined product that will receive further treatment overseas.

This decision is part of an approach to allay the concerns of the local community around the environmental and health impact. However, this development in turn raises further questions that cannot simply be sidestepped:

What simplified processes do they intend to use, and what will be the environmental and health impact?

Where overseas will the further treatment take place, and what environmental and health impact will it have there?

From the perspective of Integral Ecology, as outline by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, simply moving processes that damage our environment to another location is unacceptable. Such an action may appease local opposition in one community, but cause environmental degradation in another; perhaps one in which there is less regulation or a weaker community response.   

While the company may hope that the removal of cyanide processing will ease the way to planning permission, the community’s objection is not merely to cyanide. Rather the threat posed by gold mining in its entirety is a major concern for the community. As the Save Our Sperrins community activist group has stated: “Gold mining is a toxic industry. Cyanide is but one element of the risks from gold mining. SOS is committed to stopping Dalradian’s gold mining proposal in its totality.”

Save Our Sperrins has a further concern: that cyanide-leaching could in fact be reintroduced at a later stage of the planning process. In their press release on 14th August, Save Our Sperrins explained that the removal of the cyanide-leaching plant from their planning application would remove a “key” objection of those opposed to the mine, making it easier to gain planning permission for the mine. The plans to include a cyanide processing plant could then be restored to the planning application at a later stage on the grounds that it is necessary to ensure financial viability and to avoid the loss of hundreds of jobs.

These concerns, and the continued opposition to gold mining, are reiterated by the community activist group, the Greencastle People’s Office, in their blog also on 14th August:

“We were right about the dangers of cyanide and we are right about all the other dangers associated to gold mining, this industry is deadly to the environment and the people, we have no reason to tell lies, Dalradian can accuse us of scaremongering and telling untruths, but they know as we do, gold mining is a dirty toxic industry, they can never guarantee their gold mine is a 100 percent safe, that no accidents will occur. The waste dumps and ponds will be on our land for generations, like a ticking time bomb, at any time it could all go wrong, do we want to live never knowing if what we are drinking, breathing or eating is safe? The removal of cyanide is a start but it is not good enough, the only way we can guarantee our children’s futures is to make sure there is no gold mine anywhere in Ireland, this has never been just about cyanide to us”


Dalradian press release here  

Save Our Sperrins press release here

The Greencastle People’s Office Facebook post here


John McGeady
OLA Justice Officer
26 August 2019