Although mining is a new industry for Co. Tyrone, mines can be found throughout Europe – including close to home in both Ireland and Britain.
Tara Mines on the edge of Navan in Co. Meath, for instance, is Europe’s largest zinc and lead mine, and has been operating successfully for 40 years.
The mine employs c.1,000 people and is a major driver of the local economy. Businesses which supply the mine benefit enormously from its presence, as do local shops, restaurants and hotels. The mine is also an integral part of the local community.
In April 2017 as part of Tara Mines’ 40th anniversary celebrations, staff from the mine and their families joined the then Bishop of Meath, Michael Smith, at St Mary’s Church, Navan to give thanks for “40 years of production and for the contribution of Tara Mines to the life of our town and parish community”.
In his homily the Bishop referred to a passage from the Book of Job (Chapter 28, verses 1-12) which compares man’s search for minerals such as gold and silver with his pursuit for wisdom. After Mass Bishop Smith was presented with a miner’s lamp by the company.
In July 2017 Tara Mines received planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for an extension which secured the long-term future of the mine. According to the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) the “news was greatly welcomed by workers at the mine and surrounding communities”. The importance of the mine to the local community had been conveyed to the planning authority by both the Union and elected representatives.
SIPTU added that: “The local economy in the North East area and beyond will greatly benefit from the continued functioning of the mine facility which has been secured by this decision” and that “The importance of this decision cannot be overstated”.
Tara Mines has also helped support scientific research through the development of the Irish Geoscience centre (iCRAG) which, among other things, will explore the discovery of raw materials. Speaking at the launch and thanking Tara Mines for its support, the Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation said: “Ireland has a 50-year history of zinc and lead mineral exploration and production. The industry has employed many people particularly in Meath….it makes a major contribution to the economy of Navan and the wider county. We need to encourage and support industry in their efforts to find the next Navan and extending the life of this important sector for our economy”.
Thanks to the gold and silver deposit at Curraghinalt, we believe that the next ‘Navan success story’ will be in west Tyrone. In addition to providing 1,000 direct and indirect jobs when the mine is operational, Dalradian has already provided £474,000 to support 215 local groups through its community fund. As part of its planning application Dalradian has committed to enlarge the fund should the mine become operational.