Concern over £300k policing bill to secure gold mine's explosives
Questions have arisen over why the PSNI is footing the £300,000 bill to provide security for a Canadian mining company searching for gold in Northern Ireland.
The PSNI has had to divert resources from local policing to escort commercial explosives used by the gold company and secure them at the Co Tyrone mine.
Chief Constable George Hamilton admitted this was "above and beyond" normal policing requirement and insisted he will seek to recover the cost.
The company, Dalradian Resources, is searching for gold at the Curraghinalt site outside Omagh. Last year the company's owner, Patrick Anderson, said the area had the potential to be one of the best gold mines in the world.
He said he believed there were at least 3m ounces of the precious metal in the area - that would be worth almost $3.5bn if all could be economically mined.
The PSNI has had to provide assistance to Dalradian Resources in their security regime surrounding explosives used in the mining project, at a cost to the public purse of £300,000.
Policing Board member Ross Hussey said members of the public have raised concerns about the use of police resources to protect these explosives.
"It was made clear several police officers are used to provide a guard and that Dalradian pay zero towards the cost and that any costs incurred are removed from the local policing budget," said Mr Hussey.
He added: "There has been no forecast of the cost to policing over the expected 20-year lifespan of the mine."
The UUP MLA asked the PSNI to outline any reductions in the Omagh policing budget services due to the provision of security to Dalradian Resources. Mr Hussey claimed the company will be "declaring substantial profits".
Mr Hamilton said it remains the PSNI's position that the demands associated with the Dalradian mine "are above and beyond the normal policing requirement associated with security of explosives within Northern Ireland and will be subject to cost recovery".
He added: "To date the policing costs associated with the security of explosives at Dalradian's mine total approximately £300,000. These costs are spread across the organisation as a number of the functions involved are specialist in nature."
In a written response to the Policing Board, Mr Hamilton said the PSNI continually work "to minimise the resource requirement whilst maintaining effective services".
"Work is ongoing with our statutory partners to review how we deliver this area of business," he added.