Gold firm submits plans for its '$1bn' Co Tyrone mine
Around 350 jobs could be created and $1bn (£750m) generated for the economy as Canadian giant Dalradian submits a planning application for its controversial goldmine in west Tyrone.
The company revealed it had secured a £46.3m investment following seven years of exploration on its 300-acre site at Curraghinalt. It says operation of the mine would generate $1bn for the economy over 25 years.
Dalradian's chief executive Patrick FN Anderson told the Belfast Telegraph work would begin within 18 months of a positive planning decision. "This is an exciting day for Dalradian and for Northern Ireland. It is the culmination of seven years of exploration, engineering and environmental work on the Curraghinalt deposit and financings that have raised more than C$260m (£152.9m) for our work in Northern Ireland.
"We have transformed the project from a small, early-stage deposit to one of the best gold projects on the planet."
It has also taken out advertisements in the Press to publicise what it says are the economic benefits of the plan.
Mr Anderson said: "Building and operating a mine at the Curraghinalt deposit will create at least 350 permanent direct jobs and is expected to give a $1bn boost to the local economy over the 25-year life of a mine in the planning application. This will be one of the largest foreign direct investments to be made in Northern Ireland in recent years."
Mr Anderson said among the 350 jobs created in the area will be roles for engineers, administrators, construction workers, miners and surveyors as well as other positions.
He said the company would also be working with the local colleges to create the skills needed for some of the roles over the mine's lengthy lifespan.
"This mine will be there for a very long time and we want the roles to be filled by those living in the area so it is important to us to invest in education."
And he believes the goldmine will outlast its projected 25-year contract: "We have some Canadian mines similar to the site in Tyrone that we have been working on for 75 years and we expect it to be much longer than that here."
The company plans to extract 100,000 ounces of gold from the Tyrone site in year one with an anticipated 160,000 ounces extracted in year six. There are currently 100 people working on the exploration site where the firm has created 2km of tunnels underground so it can "work in a safe fashion," Mr Anderson said.
However, the project has faced sustained public opposition - including over the use of cyanide in the gold-mining process. But Mr Anderson said: "Everything that we have done has be designed as a safe project. Northern Ireland, and the EU, have the safest and most stringent regulations and we welcome a full enquiry so we can explain and demonstrate to the local people how safely we carry things out."
He said that the site had already welcomed 800 visitors from the area to allow Dalradian to explain its processes. The finance for the project was aided by Orion and Osisko, two of the top mine finance groups in the world.