| 20.3°C Belfast

Miners strike more gold than expected

Prospectors who are mining for gold in Co Armagh have said there could be even more of the precious metal than expected in the site.

Conroy Diamonds and Gold plc said it believed the site in Clay Lake near Keady could yield even more gold than a nearby location in Clontibret, Co Monaghan, where a resource of over one million ounces has been identified.

The news comes as gold prices sit at an all time-high of $1,348 dollars per troy ounce — in comparison to a price of around $270 dollars 10 years ago.

A spokesman for the company yesterday said consultants are carrying out feasibility studies to see if there could be potential for a mine in the future in the Co Armagh and Co Monaghan areas, which are being explored. In a statement issued to the Irish Stock Exchange yesterday, the company confirmed that a step- out drilling programme carried out at Clay Lake has intersected 13 further zones of mineralisation, extending the broad zone of gold mineralisation previously discovered at the site.

Of the total seven holes drilled at Clay Lake to date, all had gold mineralisation present — although the mining is taking place on a small scale.

However, a nugget was discovered in Clay Lake in the 1980s.

The company’s chairman, Prof Richard Conroy — a medical professor who began exploring for precious metals around 30 years ago — said: “This is good news indeed. Every one of the seven holes that have been drilled so far — all in the top corner of the soil anomaly — have got gold mineralisation present. We believe this confirms our view that Clay Lake is even more prospective than Clontibret where we have a one million ounce gold resource.”

Weekly Business Digest

Margaret Canning’s selection of the must-read business stories straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning

This field is required

Prof Conroy holds the largest number of gold prospecting licences in Ireland, most of them centred on a huge stretch of ground located along the border in counties Tyrone, Monaghan and Armagh. But the company has emphasised that the potential of its mining is unclear.

“These studies, it must be emphasised, are conceptual in nature. There has been insufficient exploration to date to define such a resource and there can be no certainty that further exploration will result in a resource of this magnitude being realised,’’ said the spokesman.

The mining firm has been listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) since 2001 and was listed on the ISE in December last year.

Drilling began at Clay Lake in January 2010. It has three main areas of mineralisation — Clay Lake, Cargalisgorran and Tivnacree.

The latter two smaller areas within the target area to the west were identified early in the 2000s by soil geochemical prospecting.

Over one part of this anomaly, at Cargalisgorran and Tivnacree, bedrock comes close to the surface and subsequent trenching showed elevated gold values.

Prof Conroy also helped discover a lead zinc mine at Galmoy in Co Kilkenny.