Thursday 24 May 2018

Boost for Kilkenny as Shanoon seeks permission to reopen Galmoy zinc mine

The Galmoy Mine plant in North Kilkenny. Photo: Picture Dylan Vaughan
The Galmoy Mine plant in North Kilkenny. Photo: Picture Dylan Vaughan

Fearghal O'Connor

Galmoy Mines in north Kilkenny is set to reopen for zinc extraction after a mining company applied to resume operations at the facility.

Shanoon Resources has applied to Kilkenny County Council for permission to recommence underground mining at the site.

In 2008 it was announced that the mine would close over the following three years and that more than 200 workers would lose their jobs.

The closure of the mine as the recession was kicking off was a huge blow to the local area. It's estimated that recommencement of mining would create around 50 new jobs.

At the time the closure was announced, management at the mine - which was then owned by the Canada-based Lundin Mining Corporation - blamed dwindling zinc resources at Galmoy and a drop in metal prices worldwide.

The mine was sold to Tipperary company AQS Environmental Solutions in 2017. There had been local speculation that it was planning to develop a waste-management facility at Galmoy.

Apart from underground activities, the proposed development at Galmoy will also involve the refurbishment and retention of a number of surface structures, and the construction of a wheel-wash and water-conditioning pond.

Last week, the former zinc mine at Lisheen close to Thurles, Co Tipperary, was also given a new lease of life with the announcement of a €30m bio-economy research project led by Glanbia Ireland.

The former mine site, which has been designated as a green energy hub, is said to have the potential to create 300 permanent jobs.

A Geological Survey Ireland (GSI) report last year found that extractive industries have a direct economic impact of €940m.

Ireland accounts for nearly a quarter of European zinc mine output, but has recently lost its status as the biggest extractor in Europe for the first time in many years,

With zinc prices recovering much lost ground in recent years - despite a recent U-turn in the metal's price - further expansion is also under way at the biggest contributor to the zinc industry here, Boliden Tara Mines.

The GSI report found that more than 4,000 people were employed in mining and quarrying, down 2,000 since 2009.

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