The Curraghinalt underground gold mine project will have a trans-formative effect upon the local economy, providing opportunities for employment, skills development and business for local firms. It will be the largest inward investment project in Northern Ireland in recent years, requiring an investment of £491 million in infrastructure, the creation of 350-plus full-time, well paid jobs and a capital spend of $1 billion on goods and services which will support other businesses.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that will significantly benefit the local community throughout the mine’s 20-25 year lifespan, as well as creating a lasting legacy which will structurally enhance the local economy even after mining operations have ceased. Given the economic scale of Dalradian’s proposals it is clear that this is a significant project, not just for Tyrone, but all of Northern Ireland. Below we outline why.
MISCONCEPTION: the mine will be bad for the local economy
FACT: Clearly that is not the case. Dalradian already provides 46 well paid jobs at its offices in Omagh and Gortin, and that is just the beginning. Should there be a successful conclusion to the planning process, Dalradian will begin construction of the mine and related infrastructure. This will take 24-months, cost £200 million and create a peak headcount on site of 260 people which will be a major boost for the construction sector. Once operational the mine will employ 350-plus people with an average salary of £40,000. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) has already set ambitious targets to enhance employment opportunities locally and Dalradian-by itself-will account for over 7% of the council’s 20-year target (FODC Local Development Plan,2016).
Given that Dalradian expects to spend $1 billion on its supply chain it is anticipated that for every 10 operational jobs created directly by the company, a further 13 jobs will be created elsewhere in the economy, including locally. Global studies of mining operations show that typically more than 90%of workers are recruited from the local community. There are currently no overseas workers employed by Dalradian. Dalradian’s annual salary bill will run into the tens of millions and we will also pay further taxes as detailed in our planning application’s Economic Impact chapter.
MISCONCEPTION: There will be no lasting economic legacy
FACT: Dalradian’s project is a long-term commitment to Tyrone with the construction and operational period anticipated to last up to 27 years. By any measure, that’s a highly significant economic lifespan.
The projects economic benefit, however, isn’t just jobs, wages and increased business for other firms. It will also tackle underlying structural challenges within the local economy-underemployment, economic inactivity and skills gap. It will help address the migration of young people from the area who would otherwise choose to stay and live in their home county if there were more good quality jobs available. Salaries in the local council area are currently below the Northern Ireland average which in turn is almost 10% lower than the UK figure. Regarding skills, it is acknowledged that there is a need to upskill school leavers and workers across Northern Ireland. In the area closest to Curraghinalt around a third of people have no formal qualifications compared to 29% across Northern Ireland. We already work with a local community development association on environmental projects, helping obtain grants from NIEA from wetland and farm projects, and providing match funding. Our aim is to provide training, mentoring and education to help source the vast majority of employees locally. Employees will receive internationally recognised and transferable skills. A large number of our jobs will be suitable for school leavers and they will have opportunities to formalise their skills on the job. There will also be professional, technical and managerial jobs, attracting and retaining graduates, as well as those with few formal qualifications.
At present Dalradian provides internships and offers grants to South West College applicants to support subjects particularly relevant to mining. This, however, is just a start and we plan to further develop our partnership with the college as well as offering pre- employment support and targeted interviews for local people. Dalradian will also help local firm’s access tender opportunities through business development workshops and providing assistance/feedback wherever possible.
MISCONCEPTION: The mine will create only short term benefits
FACT: By providing long-term, well paid careers, by supporting local businesses and through our plans to support local skills development, Dalradian will make a lasting contribution to the economic well-being of the area. This will reflect the experience of mining in Navan which has created thousands of jobs over four decades.
Not all these benefits will be entirely financial. Good jobs are also important to combating poverty and building successful communities by increasing levels of health, confidence, self-respect and social inclusion. Dalradian is also fully committed to supporting our wider community. In 2015 we created the Tyrone Fund and have donated almost £270.000 to date to a range of sports clubs, community and cultural groups, churches, farming associations, schools and environmental projects.
We have also committed within the planning application to create a larger community fund to support projects in west Tyrone that have a demonstrable social, educational, health or environmental focus. When construction begins, an initial grant of £2 million will be made to the fund, with a further £100,000 added each year the mines operating. The fund will be overseen by an independent committee, formed in consultation with the community.
SPONSORED CONTENT BY: DALRADIAN