All mines have a finite lifespan, and planning for what happens to a site when production is over is crucial. As such, planning for the time, decades from now, when we are winding down our operation is as important as planning to begin mining. Dalradian takes its responsibility to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the ecosystem and the local community extremely seriously.
Dalradian estimates the lifespan of our proposed mine at Curraghinalt in west Tyrone to be between 20 and 25 years. We have planned extensively for what should happen to the mine when it is closed and this forms an important and lengthy part of our planning application. Over the past number of years we listened to stakeholders and the general public’s view on how the site should be treated when the mine has closed, and these opinions have influenced our plans. A financial guarantee has been proposed as part of our application, which means money will always be available to carry out all of the necessary closure works.
We have designed our proposed mine so that post-closure the site will be restored for productive use for farming and/or heathlands. Our design allows for progressive restoration of the site, even as operations continue. After production has stopped the final landform of the site has been designed to ensure it will tie in with the surrounding natural slopes of the adjacent ridge and Owenreagh Valley. All mineral processing related infrastructure will be removed and mined areas will have been backfilled with waste rock and tailings from the process which has been treated to ensure they are environmentally safe and in keeping with legislative requirements. Trees planted during the operational phase will be retained and the seed mix used for reseeding the land will be selected to ensure the revegetation is sustainable and in keeping with the ecology of the surrounding areas.
In addition, water quality monitoring post-closure will continue to take place for an agreed duration to ensure that the water is compliant with pre-agreed discharge consent levels. In order to ensure that all closure commitments are upheld, at least 5 years of post-closure monitoring across a range of metrics will take place to demonstrate that the mine site has been reclaimed to an
environmentally sound condition in accordance with our commitments given to the NIEA and relevant NI and EU legislation. We have also designed the mine to blend in with the local environment during the operational phase of its lifespan.
The biggest building on site will be around the same size as a large barn and all of the buildings will be painted dark green. Dalradian understands that our project is planned to operate in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We are not alone in planning to do so, given the recent success of applications even within two National Parks elsewhere in the UK. Earlier this year, Scotgold
Resources Ltd was given consent to extract more than half a million tonnes of ore from the underground Cononish mine, situated in a National Park near Tyndrum in Scotland.
In 2015 Sirius Minerals was given planning permission to mine in the North York Moors National Park in England, described as one of the country’s most stunning parks. The area the company will mine is under heavily protected moorland overlooking Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay. The mine will be the biggest in the UK. Both examples highlight how a successful mining operation can be blended even with the stringent requirements laid down within a National Park. We have planned extensively to ensure that the integrity of the environment is upheld across the life-cycle of our proposed mine and after. As in everything we do, we will leave the site responsibly, and sustainably.
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A mine closure programme is also about ensuring that our proposed underground gold mine leaves a positive social and...