A geological survey carried out across Northern Ireland will have a major impact on the province's economic, environmental, agricultural and health sectors for years to come, Economy Minister Nigel Dodds has insisted.
The Tellus Project, which got under way in 2004 and concluded earlier this year, involved a land-based geochemical survey and a separate airborne geophysical survey of the earth's surface and subsurface throughout Northern Ireland. According to Mr Dodds, the study into Ulster's natural resources could have a major knock-on effect.
"Similar surveys in other countries have resulted in significant increases in inward investment.
"The survey will increase scientists' understanding of our natural resources, such as aggregates like sand and gravel which are vital to our construction industries or precious metals like gold and platinum."
The project's initial findings are to be announced during a conference at W5 in Belfast on October 17-18.
The Minister said the audience in W5 will have the opportunity to see geological results that are needed to plan and manage the sustainable development and management of the province's natural resources and environment.
Mr Dodds also said the initial results of the Tellus Project will illustrate a wide range of potential applications.
"The geological data generated from the project will provide real scientific and social benefits for Northern Ireland."
The director of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland, Garth Earls, said the results which will be unveiled at the Tellus conference will be of interest to a range of audiences, including planners, regulators and policy makers, the agricultural industry and extractive and energy industries.
He added: "GSNI will be engaging with interested parties, including the farming and business communities, to inform them of the significance of the project's data, which will help shape decisions on aspects of Northern Ireland's future."