Recently we welcomed our 1000th visitor to our tunnel tours, which have been running since 2016. The tours, which highlight health and safety, engineering and geology aspects of the proposed mine, have been universally praised by those who have taken the tour, with many describing it as a once in a lifetime experience. When the mine is up and running, we will broaden the tour, with further explanation of the geological history of the area, and the economic potential of mining for the people of Tyrone.
Mining tourism is a well established economic driver for many areas across the world, and we believe that the opening of the Curraghinalt mine can have a significant positive tourism impact in the Sperrins. Indeed here on the island of Ireland, in Derreenavoggy, Co. Roscommon, the Arigna mining tours have been running since 2003 and have welcomed more than a quarter of a million visitors since then. The tours offer people the chance to go underground and see the last working coal mine in Ireland, which closed in 1990, and be guided by former miners. Further afield, in one of the most scenic parts of Wales, an underground gold mine is also being used to attract tourists.
Owned by the National Trust, the Dolaucothi Gold Mine in south Wales was operational until 1938 and while there’s still gold in the mine it is no longer economically viable to extract it. Now open to tourists the mine offers visitors the chance to explore an underground mine and get a glimpse of life as a miner. It also serves as a learning resource, explaining the geology of the rocks and allows visitors a glimpse into yesteryear.
The Dolaucothi Gold Mine sits in one of Wales’ most picturesque valleys, not dissimilar to Owenkillew, and it lies at the heart of the local area’s tourist efforts. There’s a café at the mine, as well as a shop selling Welsh gold, and the National Trust promotes local guesthouses, pubs and hotels in the area, encouraging visitors to the mine to extend their stays. Wales isn’t alone in promoting mining tourism. In Cumbria the local tourist authority promotes underground tours of local limestone and granite mines, in Derbyshire tours of lead mines are part of the tourist offering and in Cornwall they believe their World Heritage Site on mining puts them on a par with India’s Taj Mahal. We believe our proposed underground gold mine can play a major role in attracting tourists to the Area of Outstanding Beauty that is the Sperrins.
Our 1000th visitor was a group of schoolchildren from Foyle College in Derry. Other visitors have come from the locality, from schools and colleges, and from as far away as South Africa and the USA! Underground mine tours are an established part of the tourist scene in many countries and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be in west Tyrone, helping pull in more visitors to the area with a knock-on effect for local businesses in one of the most beautiful parts of the island of Ireland. Mining tourism can help bring new visitors to the area. We look forward to welcoming our next 1,000 visitors, and to making sure that Dalradian plays an active part in building an economically and socially sustainable community in West Tyrone.
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